Is it all because of Kit Siang?


Sin Chew Daily

With party’s parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang’s blessing, Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong gained nine votes and defeated Skudai assemblyman Dr Boo Cheng Hau who gained five votes in the run for the Johor DAP chairman post, when the 15 newly elected state committee members cast their votes for the state committee line-up.

Although it was only a state party election, it was highly concerned as it involved the conflict between party central leadership and state party leadership.

Dr Boo ranked 10th in the 15-member committee while Liew ranked 14th. However, Liew became the ultimate winner and gained the chairman post. Such a paradoxical situation was more or less related to the intervention of Lim Kit Siang.

Basically, it was a gentlemen’s fight as the candidates had been well-behaved before the election without attacking each other via the media. Lim was able to remain neutral at the beginning but later, his stance of supporting Liew to replace Dr Boo as the state party chief became so obvious. No wonder Dr Boo said that his defeat was expected as he was not competing with Liew, but Lim.

However, Dr Boo did not lose it all, as he gained 219 votes, 34 votes more than Liew, who gained 185 votes when delegates voted for the state party’s committee. In other words, if the party adopted a direct voting system, Dr Boo would have won the election.

In fact, the votes they gained from delegates were not high. Among the 23 nominated candidates, Dr Boo was ranked 10th while Liew, who ranked 14th, almost failed to be listed in the state committee. Interestingly, in the recently held central party election, Liew was voted the top in the central committee member line-up. How could his momentum drop so drastically, ranking second last in the state committee? Does the voting tendency of Johor party grassroots show that they are not that happy with the intervention of central leaders?

Someone said that it was all because of Lim Kit Siang and believed that his stance declaration had led to the emotional subtle changes at the last minute of the state party election; namely some delegates who originally supported Dr Boo had chosen not to vote for him, while some die-hard supporters of Dr Boo voted in a way to “punish” Liew, resulting in the unusual phenomenon of low votes for both Dr Boo and Liew.

Politics is brutal and realistic. There must be winners and losers in elections. Just like the general election, the electoral system is the real factor affecting the final result of the party election. Liew gained from the party’s electoral system and turned the tide to defeat Dr Boo, who was more recognised by party grassroots. The election results, however, have also revealed that the DAP, a party claiming to have advocated democracy, is still not democratic enough.

After Pakatan Rakyat won popular votes but lost the general election, DAP was critical saying that it was the result of the unfair electoral system and thus, they called for electoral reforms. Today, similar results were found in the Johor DAP party election, does it mean that the party should also reform its electoral system and highlight its democracy progress by replacing the existing electoral system with a direct voting system? The question, as well as how to reunite party members who have split due the party election, are indeed challenging tasks and worthy of pondering.

There is another problem that must be mentioned, that is, although the state party election this time was fierce, only 57.38 per cent of eligible delegates showed up and it was a great difference compared to the 98.66 per cent attendance rate of the recently held MCA party election. How could as many as 42.62 per cent of delegates actually abstain from voting in such an important party election? Was it because they were indifferent or was it because they were disappointed due to a series of controversies within the party in recent days and thus, expressed their discontent by not attending the party election?