Biggest questions without a doubt 

DAP leaders drum home the ‘100-day countdown’ to the general election but on the sidelines, the debate is about the biggest winner and biggest loser in the party polls.

Joceline Tan, The Star 

NOT many DAP leaders wanted to answer the question of who is the biggest winner or loser in the DAP election.

Outwardly, it might appear like Karpal Singh is the biggest winner.

The DAP veteran won big but the biggest winner was no other than Lim Kit Siang. He came out No 1 and, more importantly, he can cement DAP for his son Guan Eng before finally calling it a day.

Guan Eng, despite his position as Penang Chief Minister, still does not have the sort of control over the party that his father has. The next three years will see Kit Siang helping his son entrench his position and deepen his hold.

However, the opinion about the biggest loser title was more diverse.

Some think the biggest loser is “warlord” Dr P. Ramasamy. Among those who lost, he has the biggest job title, being Deputy Chief Minister. To rub salt into injury, his rival “godfather” Karpal shot up to third spot.

The bad blood between them has not dried up. Yesterday, as Karpal was being wheeled to his waiting car after the congress ended, Dr Ramasamy who was waiting for his car turned the other way.

Dr Ramasamy was, however, appointed as a CEC member but he may have lost his locus standi to continue contesting in two seats in the general election.

But others think that the Malays in DAP are the big losers.

The delegates had resisted voting in any of the Malay nominees although the top leadership had hinted that they favoured Senator Dr Arrifin Omar. It was a big blow to the party’s quest to portray itself as a multi-racial party.

The party had made unprecedented efforts to recruit well-known Malay names in the last few years, including several ex-Umno members. But it has not moved much closer to a multi-racial image.

The party election ushered in an all-Chinese line-up apart from three Indians – Karpal, his son Gobind Singh Deo and Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran.

Yesterday, at the maiden meeting of the new CEC, Dr Arrifin and Zairil Khir Johari were among the 10 appointed members in the CEC.

It was a necessary move but it will only reinforce the perception of the token role of Malays in DAP, that they are there to plaster up what is largely a Chinese-dominated party.

There is some degree of resentment that Dr Arrifin parachuted from nowhere into a cushy senator post. Many in the party also feel that Zairil has been given more than he deserves.

Apart from being the political secretary to Guan Eng, Zairil is also CEO of Penang Institute, a post that comes with a fat salary. Zairil is quite a pleasant man but he is naturally shy, which sometimes comes across as being aloof, and that cost him votes.

Another segment in the party thinks the biggest loser is Ronnie Liu who did not make it into the CEC.

“Look at my face, do I look sad?” he said when met yesterday.

Many said that Liu was clearly on the way out in Selangor. His “replacement” is the burly-looking Vincent Wu, a party grassroots leader who is now favoured by the Lims.

Wu came in at No 6, way ahead of other big names, including his state chairman Teresa Kok, who almost did not make it at 18.

Some say that there is one big winner in Selangor, namely, Datuk Teng Chang Khim.

The famously independent voice and Guan Eng do not see eye to eye but the latter appears to have acknowledged Teng’s clout and he was put in charge of the party’s Pakatan Rakyat bureau.

“We have not been very happy about our dealings with Pakatan parties. Chang Khim is seen as someone who can bang the table. He is definitely not a sotong (spineless),” said a party leader.

Teng was reportedly not keen to accept the post but has since described the post as a mission and not just a job.

Party leaders have pressed home that the “100-day countdown” to the general election has begun.

The party showcased many young faces during the debate, who are also likely to be named as candidates in the general election.

They spoke fluent Bahasa Malaysia, they had ideals but they also sounded wet around the gills. Many read from prepared text and sounded like lecturers rather than politicians.

Their speeches did not quite resonate with the audience, many of whom are the traditional stable of DAP supporters – weather-beaten working-class folk who are more used to the old cut-and-thrust style of the senior leaders.

Many thought DAP would use this congress to also speak to the larger audience outside the party. It was primarily an internal affair to put in line the team to lead in the general election.

It failed to address the question of how it is going to make Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the next premier over PAS’ insistence that Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is a better choice.

The party’s reluctance to address the encroachment of PAS’ Islamic agenda begged the question of who is going to call the shots on this sort of issues if Pakatan comes to power.

The DAP house is in order but its relations with its partners seem to be in the grey area as the party starts its 100-day countdown.