Will DAP keep renewal pledge with fresh faces in Penang polls? – Ian McIntyre

All eyes on younger candidates’ ability to weather plethora of challenges ahead

(The Vibes) – DAP politics in Penang could be headed for uncharted waters in the coming polls, given talks that the party plans to depart from its Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang era when it unveils its candidates’ list for 19 state seats tomorrow.

As its allies – Pakatan Harapan components PKR and Amanah, and the Barisan Nasional coalition – have been doing in recent days, DAP is set to reveal who it will field in Penang, dubbed the party’s stronghold state for the last 15 years.

There is talk that party stalwarts who rose during Lim’s long era may be asked to emulate him in retiring and writing their memoirs.

This has gained credence after DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke promised recently to field new faces, citing the need to ensure the party’s renewal and relevance.

In Penang, one of the longest tenured elected representatives is DAP Wanita chairman, Chong Eng, who has served nearly 30 years in public office.

In the aftermath of DAP’s humiliating defeat in the 1995 general election, the first-time candidate emerged as the sole survivor, standing alone in the Batu Lanchang state seat to carry the party flag.

That year, expectations were high on the party’s potential to seize Penang after a rousing performance in the previous election in 1990.

DAP had captured 14 out of the then 33 state seats.

Lim held an enthusiastic Robocop-themed campaign stylised to cast DAP as a defender of justice after several of its leaders were politically persecuted. Posters and flyers depicting Lim as Robocop were plastered everywhere.

Despite the roaring crowds it drew to its ceramah, DAP was still wiped out in Penang in 1995.

Lim lost, and so did the “Tiger of Jelutong” Karpal Singh.

Changing tides

From 1995 comes the lesson that a party cannot keep winning elections with the same faces, as the voting landscape and expectations change with the times.

“It is about renewal…the need to renew the party (in Penang).

“We are not dropping anyone, we are just in a period of renewal,” Loke said recently when talking about candidates for the Penang state election.

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