Perak DAP polls: Will delegates stick with experienced leaders or give new faces a chance to rejuvenate party?

John Bunyan
·5-min read
Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran speaks during a press conference in Ipoh March 5, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran speaks during a press conference in Ipoh March 5, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Mar 14 — The Perak DAP election today sees the return of parliamentarians M. Kulasegaran and Thomas Su and as expected, there will be a tough battle for the post of state chairman.

Will incumbent Nga Kor Ming and advisor Ngeh Koo Ham retain their posts which they have held since 1998?

There have been a lot of rumours that Su and Kula’s team which comprises Pasir Bedamar assemblyman Terence Naidu and Pokok Assam assemblyman Leow Thye Yih will be able to garner 40 per cent of the votes.

The discord between the two camps is not something new as it goes way back before the 2008 general election and centres around allegations of irregularities in the party.

The reappearance of Su and Kula after a 10-year break is believed to be due to the quality of the current leadership which has led to the sacking of some party lawmakers while others defected.

DAP has lost three of the 18 seats in the state under Nga’s leadership after Tronoh assemblyman Paul Yong Choo Kiong and Buntong assemblyman A. Sivasubramaniam quit the party last year to go independent. They have since joined Bersatu.

Malim Nawar’s Leong Cheok Keng was sacked by the DAP in January following his public criticism of the party leadership.

DAP still holds the majority in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition of 23 seats, with Amanah five and PKR’s three.

The Perak state assembly has a total of 59 seats.

Su and Terence Naidu in a joint reply told Malay Mail they are contesting in the election as party members have requested for good leadership and management.

“There should always be room for better ideas in any organisation. If we don’t evolve and progress, we automatically regress. We need to be more inclusive and dispel the wrong image painted by our enemies that we are anti-Malay or anti-Muslim, especially when it comes to DAP Perak, which is a lie.

“Our opponents have thrived on taking soundbites from our current chairman Nga, and painting all of us in the same brushstroke. When members feel that and reject that very notion, it means we too have already painted them the same,” they said.

“This malicious labelling of our party must stop, and to do that we cannot afford to have questionable leadership,” they added.

Despite the argument that DAP Perak is still strong and has maintained 100 per cent wins in the past three general elections, the duo questioned the recent loss of seats under perceived good leadership.

“This is a tragedy and something we need to ask the leadership. While we are aware freedom of association is enshrined in our Federal Constitution, as potential leaders of our party, we will always seek out ways and understanding as to why our members are not in line with the party and seek a mutual ground of understanding.

“Not cut and discard members, even assemblymen and committee members. The divisiveness under this leadership must stop and make way for inclusiveness,” they said, adding that Perak DAP has had the worst track record under the leadership of Nga and Ngeh.

Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming speaks to reporters during an event in Ipoh September 12, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming speaks to reporters during an event in Ipoh September 12, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Meanwhile, a long-standing DAP Perak delegate of at least four state party elections who requested anonymity, said Nga and his team should continue leading the state as they have built bridges with all parties including Umno.

“All major parties in the state have some experience of working with each other over the turbulent last decade and a half, and as such have grown to know the reliability and track record of each other.

“On both Umno’s and DAP’s side, both have seen and tested rejuvenation of leadership that has forged towards progress. From mistakes that took place between 2008 and 2009 that brought on the 2009 power grab, of course, the recent Perak move to remove the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Mentri Besar, it is clear that the current Umno and DAP leadership are the most refined and efficient.

“Both are led by the same players, but with markedly improved political finesse and professionalism that put Perakians’ interests first,” he said.

He pointed out that Umno Perak is clearly in a civil war with PAS and Bersatu, with neither side commanding the majority in the state.

“Real stability will only come if there is a post-election pact to govern between DAP and PH with Umno. That is the only way to achieve the primary objective of the people.

“While the Kula-led team consists of a mixed bag of relatively unknown players, they definitely do not have the gravitas or competencies that their opponent team has.

“Plus, among the challenger team are elected reps aligned either formerly or still with the few defected assemblymen. It is both tactically unwise and also principally a deterrent factor for delegates to gravitate towards,” he explained.

Another party lawmaker, who also wished to remain anonymous, said that the outcome of the party election this year will determine the candidate line-up for the forthcoming 15th General Election.

“It would also have a bearing on the forthcoming Central Executive Committee (CEC) election,” he said.

However, he said that Tebing Tinggi assemblyman and Perak Opposition leader Abdul Aziz Bari could appeal to both factions regardless of the party election outcome as the party is serious about getting the mentri besar post.

A total of 2,135 delegates from 309 party branches throughout the state is expected to cast their votes in the party’s triennial polls on Sunday at the Ipoh Convention Centre, which coincides with the state party convention.

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