Johor DAP polls results show Guan Eng is still in charge
PETALING JAYA: The Johor DAP election results must have shocked the media, especially the MCA-owned or linked Chinese newspapers, more than the party members. If the various analyses or sources-based stories during the run-up were anything to go by, there was supposed to have been a civil war in the party.
Some reports even went as far as to say that incumbent state chairman Liew Chin Tong, who is the party strategist, would not make it into top 15 in the election.
But not only did he improve his previous performance by coming in third, 10 of his allies made it into the top 15. By co-opting five of his men into the state committee, as allowed under the DAP constitution, he is firmly entrenched.
A party member said the claims of a dichotomy between the English and Chinese-educated members – after central executive member (CEC) Ronnie Liu’s outburst that DAP was losing its “Chineseness” in trying to win Malay and Indian support – did not manifest in any of the results so far.
“Yeo Bee Yin, Teo Nie Cheng and Chin Tong are all Chinese-educated and topped in Johor but they appear to be pushing for a Malaysian outlook. Perak chief Nga Kor Ming is also Chinese educated. But all of them are aligned to Lim Guan Eng, who is English-educated.
“This was just a perception that was created after Liu’s outburst, which is probably a salvo he fired in the run-up to the Selangor DAP elections on June 6,” said a leader.
Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak have yet to hold their elections. There were no contests in Malacca, Kedah and Kelantan.
The results so far show that two things clearly – secretary-general Guan Eng is firmly in charge and the purported clash between the English-educated and the Chinese educated within the party is non-existent on the ground.
According to a source, there has been some anger against Guan Eng within the party and some supporters outside with claims that he became arrogant after becoming finance minister, taking the party support for granted. But it does not seem evident in the party election results so far.
“For some reason, despite his iron-fisted control of the party and his pending corruption charges, his team has prevailed, especially in the key states. It could be members accepting his explanation that he is a victim of selective prosecution.
“Another reason could be the sympathy towards him for holding the party together at a time when the rivals, especially the Malay-based parties, and some of its own leaders are tearing into it like never before,” he said.
He said the massive “attacks” by MCA-owned media outlets and its political commentators probably backfired when DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang campaigned and openly spoke about “outside” forces trying to break up the party, which still has its 42 elected MPs intact.
One insider said the party leaders and members, especially the older ones, still hold reverence for Kit Siang, who many say appears to be “dictatorial” but they accept his ways at the same time for having led the party to what it is today.
“His presence in the party is crucial at a time when the political situation and equation in the country has become very shaky. DAP appears to be the most stable and strongest, but an easy racial target.
“Of course, his continued presence is also vital for Guan Eng’s survival. Party members seem to have some gratitude for his years of sacrifice, including having been detained twice under the Internal Security Act for a total of 36 months,” he said.
With this, Kit Siang, who is the Iskandar Puteri MP, is expected to stand again in the next general election (GE15) to ensure Guan Eng will continue to lead the party. If he does, it will be his 12th consecutive election after first being elected in 1969, losing only once in the 1999 polls.
Although Guan Eng will not be able to stand again for the secretary-general’s post as the party constitution allows a maximum of only three terms of three years each, the national DAP election on June 20 points towards him becoming the party chairman and still wielding power.
“Some members feel that the fragile political situation with elected representatives being wooed by the ruling coalition is dangerous and the party needs to be under a strong grip. And it is felt that no one else can do it,” one source said.
However, one party member said the Johor results cannot be a barometer of support for Chin Tong or Guan Eng. Only 61% of the eligible voters turned up because of the distance and fear of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Kit Siang worked the middle ground which favoured Chin Tong and the election was decided on that. The media attack by the MCA-owned outlets backfired as the grassroots realised DAP needed to be strong to fight racism and religious bigotry.
“In any case, Kit Siang is very much a big figure and he is pushing for his son,” said another source.
Guan Eng, however, told FMT that to say his father was the sole reason for him being where he is today is extremely unfair, adding that the party had improved by leaps and bounds during his nine years as secretary-general.
“The position was not handed to me on a silver platter. Don’t forget, I spent 18 months time in prison for defending an underage Malay girl, and again in Kamunting for 18 months under the Internal Security Act after Ops Lalang. I worked hard, too.
“These were due to my political struggle as a DAP leader and elected representative. It’s not easy to be in jail, you know,” he said when asked about allegations that the position he is holding is because of his father’s huge presence in the party.
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