Dr Hsu Dar Ren, a division leader of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, has thrown down a gaunlet. He wants the party leadership to hold a referendum to find out if its delegates want to leave or stay in BN.
"It is clear from these two cases (resignation of Zaid Ibrahim and Ahmad Ismail racist slurs) that reforming Umno will be an almost impossible task. Bearing in mind that ex-Gerakan president Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik recently said that the party is like a beggar inside the coalition, and that an ex-MCA vice president said MCA is like a slave, it is clear that the master is not going to listen to the slave or the beggar no matter how much they slog or beg."
"So why are they still staying on? Is it for ideological reasons? For MCA, being a race-based party, staying in a race-based coalition would not be too much of a clash with their ideology. But for Gerakan, how are the leaders going to reconcile their own calls to the members to go back to promoting a "non-racial, fair and equitable society" by remaining in BN? It is rather hypocritical to sing one tune while dancing to another."
What is the good doctor going to do if the party leadership refuses to listen to his call?
"So far, Gerakan leaders have not decided on calling for a referendum, which they think unsuitable at the moment because the delegates may be too emotional. This sort of thinking will not go down well with the grassroots, who are matured enough to know what is good and bad, not only for the party, but, more importantly, for the people and the country."
"Many of them are already talking about an indirect way of getting the message across if a referendum is not allowed. One indirect way is, of course, to have someone contest against the top leader and, if that someone manages to get a sizeable percentage of votes, it would be a very strong signal that most members want Gerakan out of BN."
Since there is an obvious conflicting statements between Dr Lim Keng Yaik and other leaders in the party, I believe a referendum is the best way for the party to feel the pulse of its grassroots. Any leadership which does not listen to its grassroots will eventually be thrown out.
So, it looks like Gerakan delegates will get a final chance to decide their party's future - to stay in BN and experience a trip into oblivion or take the SAPP way to autonomous. SAPP's President Yong Teck Lee announced enthusiastically, "We are finally free from BN!". It has opened a new chapter for his party.