Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Parliament Live Telecast

I managed to catch some parts of the live telecast over RTM1 this morning. Like usual, useless banters and time wasting antics are still aplenty. Kinabatangan MP Bung Radin and Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh traded some personal blows and engaged in name calling.

Granted that this parliament session should be livelier than previous ones, MPs should not keep up with their old habits of trading insults, personal heroism, making useless and senseless speeches and asking stupid questions.

MPs from both sides should address some serious issues e.g. inflation, rising food cost and food shortage, subsidy structure, public safety, public transport system and the need to collaborate to address stifling socio-economic bottlenecks.

As they continue to bicker, many Malaysians are watching their childish antics and behaviour. In the last general election, the voters have indicated that they have tolerated enough nonsense and want all politicians to focus on serving the country's interest.

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, Information Minister Ahmad Shabery said he was disappointed when asked about the live telecast through state-owned RTM.

“Very disappointing...,” said Shabery when asked about the conduct of the session. “It (the live session) has been grossly abused by the MPs.” Shabery added that the government would now review whether to continue the live TV telecast.

The telecast should continue and it should act as a good check-and-balance mechanism for voters to judge the effectiveness of MPs they have voted into the august house.

I urge Ahmad to continue with the live telecast.

Nazir: Re-examine NEP

I applaud Nazir's consistency in calling for a review and re-examination of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

"My worry is that when the government is trying so hard to help the Bumiputeras, it may hamper and undermine their future and achievements. When you give them contracts and money easily, you are actually undermining the spirit of entrepreneurship.”

I fully support Nazir's observation. Over the last 3 decades, especially in the last 28 years since the Mahathir's administration, contracts were given out to Bumiputera contractors without a proper mechanism to evaluate their performance and progress.

Worse, a huge number of contracts went to the same few companies undermining many other Bumiputera companies. Since 1997, GLCs, mostly run by government nominees, have established their own subsidiaries to move down the value chain and compete for smaller contracts against local SMEs. Consequently, Bumiputera SMEs are not well developed. Less than 30% of all SMEs (595,000 registered companies) are controlled by Bumiputeras.

NEP had lost touch with its main objectives i.e. poverty eradication and socio-economic restructuring of society.

What can we do to help a sustainable empowerment of the Bumiputeras? Nazir added, "We should be spending more on education. And in terms of financing, access to it should be extended, not giving out free financing. This subsidy thing is just not right. You are actually encouraging a subsidy mentality.”

Education is an area which we have not seen much improvement or innovative change. Since 2004, Hishammudin has been largely rhetorical when comes to proper rethink of our education system. Like other ministers of education, Hisham did not have a comprehensive strategy to ensure our diverse education systems can be synergised to complement one another.

At the tertiary level, the appointments of non-Malay vice-chancellors are superficial and will not change their culture. A friend, who is a post-doctoral fellow at a top local university, told me how grants and funds are misused and contributed little to the pool of intellectualism.

If we want to succeed a change of mindset if needed. Weed NEP out of our tertiary institutions and employ the best to teach in them. Hishammudin, with his preoccupation of Keris (a Malay weapon) now behind him, should have more time to spend on reinventing our education system. He should work closely with the Minister of Higher Education.

Nazir sums up: While there is no denying that the NEP had been successful, Nazir questioned its sustainability.

“Is it not the time now to review the policy? Everybody accepts the need for some kinds of affirmative action but it must be implemented in a way that does not undermine economic progress."

"What is important is to apply the correct policies in this day and age. Nowadays, the world is open to just anybody.” he said.

Well said. Are we ready for globalisation and to compete with the world's best?

NST: My Views On Crossovers

REGINA LEE: Crossovers causing anxiety
By Regina Lee
2008/04/30

NST: DAP, PKR and Pas have agreed on many issues, including forming Pakatan Rakyat, but political crossovers are still very much a bone of contention among them. While PKR big guns have been boasting of a hijrah or exodus of elected representatives from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan, DAP has been less receptive about the entire notion.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh has gone on record as saying that he was dead set against it, even asserting that he would break ranks with the opposition coalition and side with BN a motion for an anti-hopping law.

DAP has traditionally been against what it calls "political kangaroos". Back in 1978, party adviser Lim Kit Siang delivered a stirring speech when moving a motion to introduce a private member's Bill for the prevention of defection.But this is no surprise considering that this party had been battered by office bearers who quit the DAP for either MCA or Gerakan over the years.

Yap Pian Hon (now Datuk) was among the most prominent DAP stalwarts who crossed to the MCA. In 1969, he won a seat in Parliament on a DAP ticket, but moved to the MCA five years later and he retained the seat continuously until the last election when he was dropped -- an extremely long wait for DAP to see "justice". It was particularly painful for DAP to bear, since Yap quickly rose up the MCA ranks to become arguably one of the most popular chiefs of the Youth wing for championing the communal cause and moved on to the vice presidency.

Another former stalwart, the late Datuk Richard Ho, defected in 1972 and had a meteoric rise in MCA rising to become deputy president and a federal minister a few short years later.From then on, various DAP leaders have deserted the party throughout the decades.The more recent high profile crossovers included that of Lee Yuen Fong (more popularly known as Tiger Lee), and state vice-chairman Lim Fui Ming last year which triggered a media war between himself and DAP leaders.

But with PKR's de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim buoyant about having at least 30 Barisan MPs in the bag ready to cross over, most likely to PKR, to form the federal government, will DAP be squeezed into a minor role?

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng believes so and that DAP's main concern is of being marginalised if PKR does end up being the giant in the tripartite grouping."Their fear is that they may turn into the next Gerakan, a party which had no clout within BN, with governing power only in Penang," he said.

With Anwar setting his sights on Bumiputera MPs in Sabah and Sarawak including current Umno leaders, Khoo said it may decrease DAP's ability to reach out to the non-Chinese."In that worst-case scenario, with PKR becoming another Umno, exerting its power and dominance over other parties, DAP could possibly leave the coalition and strike out on its own as an opposition," said Khoo.

While DAP leaders have not gone to the extent of voicing this possibility, the party seems to be in a split between idealism and politics.Karpal did not mince his words when he said he would be sticking to his guns on the issue, even if Pakatan Rakyat did form the federal government.

"In fact, I do not want any part in this Pakatan Rakyat Government this way."Parties who form Government through crossovers will be looked upon negatively. The party would be full of traitors." This view is also shared by several other young party leaders, perhaps being idealists who don't want the DAP to be "corrupted" by party-hoppers who want to bet on a winning horse.

However, party supremo Lim Kit Siang has been curiously coy over the issue.When contacted, he refused to comment, and asked that the views of other party leaders be sought instead.Is the DAP head honcho, the anti-hopping firebrand that he was 30 years ago, finally having a change of heart?A well-versed party insider, who declined to be named, said he just might sing a different tune, what with the possibility of the DAP having a part in forming the Government within its grasp.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In Support of Lee Kah Choon


Several Gerakan KLFT leaders such as Dr Hsu Dar Ren, Dr Tan Kee Kwong, K.Supramaniam, KK Gan and others have called a press conference at 10am today to voice their support for KC's decision to accept the appointments from the Penang state government.

The group's press statement was drafted by Dr Hsu Dar Ren, who is a Gerakan division leader in KL. The summary of the statement says:

A group of grassroots Gerakan members have decided to speak out publicly on the issue of Lee Kah Choon, who they feel that should not be labeled as opportunist and political ‘frog”.

They have also decided to give an advice to the party adviser Dr Lim Keng Yaik to stop interfering with party affairs publicly, as was the case over the past few months when he has preempted party top leadership with statements that were causing damage to the party image.

They would lke to remind him to keep to his words that he would not give advice publicly after he retired, and would only speak his mind when his view is sought.

The group also targetted Dr Koh Tsu Koon:

We regret that a capable leader who was deemed to be fit enough to be a potential Chief Minister of Penang by party leadership just less than 60 days ago, is now deemed to be inexperienced and an opportunist. We regret that a capable leader has been forced out of the party as a result of the action by Sdr Dr Lim Keng Yaik. (Dr Koh had casted doubt over KC's appointments and said that he was not experienced or qualified for the jobs).

Thus far, this press statement launched the strongest criticism against Gerakan leadership.

I was told that more than 20 reporters turned up for their press conference held at the Gerakan KLFT head office.

The Poser of "Ketuanan Melayu" or Malay Supremacism


A Malay proverb explains it all: "Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin" or "Action Does Not Match The Deed". This is the first time I am hearing a new interpretation of "ketuanan Melayu" from the horse's mouth, UMNO President Abdullah Badawi.

Malay supremacism is a notion promoted and practiced by UMNO leaders to position the party as a dominant party in the race-based coalition BN.

In The Star today, Abdullah said "The definition of ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) is not about the Malays being in a position to dominate, rule over and force their power upon other races." He said Malay supremacy meant that the Malays, as the indigenous people in Malaysia, needed to strengthen themselves to ensure they were successful and developed.

Why then was MIC's Sothinathan reprimanded and suspended when he spoke up against the Crimea Medical University issue? Why was Gerakan's S.Paranjothy severely warned and criticized when he spoke up about the marginalisation of Indian community? Why must UMNO Youth and some senior leaders warned other communities not to question Malay rights? Why should UMNO dominate more than 75% of Cabinet positions? The list goes on....And...the bullying tactics continued...Minister of Tourism Azalina Othman refused to work with tourism councils in the PR controlled states. Since BN only obtained 52% popular votes, then Azalina's ministry allocation should reflect the ratio. The rest of the 48% should go to the PR controlled states, afterall all Malaysians paid taxes.
Minister of Entrepreneur Development Noh Omar is another bad apple. He wanted to channel the RM100 million development funds to MARA, which is seen as a Malay-Bumiputera institution. Is Noh a minister of a single race only? His ministry allocation should be deducted accordingly.

Is UMNO willing to accept and embrace all component parties in BN as equals? No one will quarrel if the BN government allocates resources to help the poor regardless of race and especially the rural poor Malays. But the notion of Malay supremacism was used to promote a feudal power hierarchy in UMNO vis-a-vis other parties. This is not acceptable.

We want UMNO to do as it says. Rhetoric alone is cheap and available in abundance.
Picture courtesy of The Star Online.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Exciting 12th Parliament

I was at the parliament around noon today to observe the swearing in of new MPs to the august house. Many of the new MPs are my friends. Congratulations!

At the lobby, there was a record turnout of reporters and journalists too. Altantuya's dad and his Mongolian translator were seen miggling with the press and some politicians. From his facial expression, I am sure he is anxious to seek an immediate justice for his daughter. Which parent doesn't?

I met up briefly with the newly minted Minister of Transport Ong Tee Keat and exchanged pleasantry. I expect Ong to play an important role in the rehabilitation of MCA. He is expected to contest the No.2 position since Chan Kong Choy had announced his intention to retire early. Ong warned of MCA losing its members to the Pakatan Rakyat if the party does not reform fast.

I was greeted by another familiar face, John Phang, who was an aide to Hishammudin Hussein but left Hisham to join a top consulting company and now back to help Kuli (Tengku Razaleigh). We exchanged some views on Kuli contesting the UMNO's top post and his possible running mate. At 71 yrs old, I am sure Kuli can still do what John McCain is doing - running for the top office.

Also, I met up with my MP Liew Chin Tong (Bukit Bendera). I commented on his elegant suit and shoe. As usual, he was grinning ear to ear.

I managed to say hi to Fong Poh Kuan (who is cutting a leaner self), Chong Eng, Nga Kor Ming and others. I missed the presence of Chia Kwang Chye, Lee Kah Choon and a few others whom I have worked with in the past.

Finally, I was supposed to join Penang CM Lim Guan Eng for lunch but he was swarmed by reporters. I quietly made my way out and stumbled upon MP Charles Santiago. I asked him about his failure to submit parliament questions on time. This is not the usual Charles who normally armed with dozens of questions. He was sick and did not make the deadline. Another time, Charles and make up for the lost opportunity. Still as hip as usual, with an ear stud on his left earlobe.

In sum, it will be an exciting session with a record turnout and good attendance. Neither side can afford to slip.

Sick Partisanship Needs a Dose of Nationalism

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is ready to take the rap if his policy to appoint political leaders from the state opposition Barisan Nasional coalition backfires.

He also acknowledged that he was taking a big risk in absorbing ‘BN virus’ into the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat state administration."I know that I am taking a big risk," he said when asked whether he was inviting "BN political virus" to his administration.

Karpal Singh, DAP Chairman, has chided Lim for appointing former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Lee Kah Choon as the executive chairman of InvestPenang and a director in Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

It is a shame if DAP leaders, members and supporters allow Guan Eng to fail by pulling back their support in his bid to absorb and incorporate good Malaysians regardless of political affliation. Karpal should not take this issue too personal. Yes, in the heat of the 1999 general election KC Lee did criticize Karpal on his service record. But it was part of a political contest then. As a national leader, I am sure Karpal can accept positive criticism and do not allow something so petty to spoil the grand picture.

Malaysians need to get out from the partisan mould. It is not going to help anybody. Regardless of the political affliation, we are all Malaysians. If in other developed countries, politicians from both sides of the divide can concur on issues why can't us? Do not make a mockery of our nascent democratization.

KC's decision to help out the state government is not facing merely opposition within Gerakan. Many leaders and members do think beyond the political divide. As politicians, they should put service above self.

It is time to end the unnecessary politicking and allow KC to prove himself to all Penangites.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Najib Regrets KC Chose Job Over Party, We Rejoice!

In NST, Najib voiced his regret over KC Lee's decision to quit from Gerakan. What choice does he have? KC initially wanted to remain an ordinary member of Gerakan and accepted the responsibility to help the state economy - which means helping 1.5 million people.

"It is unfortunate that he has chosen to accept the positions," he said, referring to Lee's appointment as director of the Penang Development Corporation and investPenang from the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

It shows clearly that Najib's interest is only UMNO and not the people. Regardless of the political affliation, we are still Malaysians and the interest of this country must come first. It is unfortunate, like most of BN top leaders, Najib who is a PM designate did not hit the right chord. In many other developed countries, governments can function even if they are minorities. Essentially the idea of power sharing and participatory government are adopted for common good.

KC wanted to serve the people and willing to put active politics behind him. Why must both Najib and Keng Yaik still can let him go his way?

Gerakan, during the leadership of Lim Keng Yaik, was very much into the poaching game too. A number of DAP elected leaders jumped to the party in the 80's and the late Ooi Ean Kwong was even made speaker of the state assembly of Penang. It also took defectors from MCA. Keng Yaik was an MCA defector too.

In fact, prior to the 1990 GE, Keng Yaik sent Ooi to meet up with DAP Secretary General Lim Kit Siang at Kamunting (the latter was detained under ISA) and offered him to crossover to BN. Kit was promised a very lucrative position which he turned down. (More details are contained in an upcoming book I co-wrote with Dr Neil Khor on non-sectarian parties).

Lim added, "Don't say he is out of politics because he is now part of the DAP agenda," he said, adding that Lee's departure from Gerakan was no loss to the party and country.

If Lee's departure is no loss to Gerakan, why continue to bitch about it? KC Lee is not the property of either Gerakan or Keng Yaik, although the latter is trying to personalize and hold on to everything.

It is time to put national and society interests above politics. If KC chose his party over this responsibility to help out his birthplace then he should be severely criticized.

Gerakan should ask itself why some of its best leaders have left the party. Leaders in the party are more keen to play partisan politics than looking after the needs of the people. It has simply lost touch with the grassroots.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pissed Over Pig Farm


Previously, I have a good impression of Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek. He has made some bold moves and right statements since his appointment. Live telecast of parliament proceedings is one of them.

But this young minister has done a reversal on his recent comment about pig farming when asked about Anwar Ibrahim's statement that many Sabah Barisan MPs were ready defect to the Opposition.

He said:

"It's not that I want to play up racial sentiments with regards to the pig farming issues. But is this the priority issue of the government led by PKR? Does it mean that the whole issue being spoken about by PKR on a clean government and transparency starts with a pig farming project?" he asked.

This, the young minister said may cause some PKR MPs crossing over to BN. If this happens, then we should cry for Malaysia because politicians still cannot get over their communal stereotype and dogma.

Pork is a source of protein to many non-muslims. It is food, nothing else. If pork is not halal and offending to muslims, they should not stop others from consuming it. Just like polygamy is wrong to many morally upright non-muslims, in particularly Christians, but none of them is going to stop a muslim from doing it. We learn to accommodate one another because we come from different value systems, partly due to our religious background.

But what make Ahmad Shabery think that the Pakatan Rakyat government should not help to establish cleaner, environmentally friendly and modern pig farms in Selangor. Isn't this what the people wanted, observe care for the environment?

Ahmad may claim that his statement is non-racist but the fact speaks otherwise. Stop playing it before you are labelled as an old school UMNO leader. For a moment, I thought there is a bright spark from this new Minister of Information but hell he sounds like the old one. Maybe not, maybe yes?!? It depends on what he says next.

New Federal Government by 16th Sept?

PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim is at it again. Reported in The Star, the Opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat is in a position to form the federal government and it will be done no later than Malaysia Day which falls on Sept 16, claimed Anwar.

If this is true, it will marked the undoing of BN. Two months after the GE, component parties in BN are still trying to find a soft landing. Leaders in these parties have not identified the real reasons of their poor showing in the recent GE.

Granted, some superficial moves have been taken as short term measures to stop the decline but they are not adequate for BN to really turn around. Two critical things must be done or undone. First, BN's racial formula must be reviewed and analysed to find out if it is still relevant. Maintaining status quo and preserving the dominance of UMNO will not work for other non-UMNO component parties. Voters will continue to desert these parties.

Right after the GE, some leaders in these parties had blamed UMNO solely for their defeat. A number of them had asked their party leadership to leave the BN. Understandably, any decision will depend on how fast and decisive UMNO's own revitalisation plan is heading.

Second, most of the parties in BN have not identified a comprehensive turn-around strategy. The lack of vision of their leaders is apparent. MCA and Gerakan believe they need to be more vocal and this alone should be adequate to propel them back into power. This is foolish thinking. Over the last 3 decades, leaders in these parties had lost their political activism. They did not lead but merely being led by UMNO.

Most of them were not interested in policy formulation. This was evident when I was the Executive Director of Sedar Institute. These leaders took their mandate for granted and expected to be returned in every election. In the end, it was proven that the society had moved on but the politicians did not and were left behind. An example is the blogs. Now, all aspiring leaders in BN must run their own blog. This is a knee jerk reaction!

Without a mindset change and real democratisation in BN, do not be surprised if there is a government change come 16th Sept.

In politics, anything is possible. Can BN possibly become a truly Malaysian party? Ruling out this possibility is catastrophic.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

KC Lee Quits Gerakan

It was apparent that CM Lim Guan Eng was willing to give participatory governance a chance by appointing several BN leaders to key positions in the state. Lee Kah Choon was one of them and he was appointed as a director in PDC and chairman of the executive council, InvestPenang.

Unable to accept Lee's decision on the appointments, Gerakan leadership on Monday has issued him a show cause letter. PM Abdullah Badawi also criticized Lee's decision as inappropriate and against the spirit of BN.

KC has reiterated his decision to quit active politics. Hence, the reaction from BN leaders are not necessary. Today, KC has decided to severe his political ties in total, making him truly non-partisan so that he can 'focus on the job'.

A Gerakan member told the party not to sack KC so that he will not be made a hero. I can assure you there is no heroism in his decision. It is purely a career transition and KC is old enough to make his own decision.

My prediction, Gerakan loses KC Lee, comes true.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gerakan Shocker!


When I was away from last Thursday till late today, a shocker was delivered to Gerakan. CM Lim Guan Eng has appointed ex-Gerakan Deputy Secretary-General Lee Kah Choon as a director in PDC and the Executive Committee Chairman of InvestPenang. Both are supposed to be non-political state agencies in-charge of socio-economic development and investment promotion in Penang.

Lee's rationale for accepting the posts is he is serving the people and their mandate in a new role, albeit a non-political one and announced his retirement from active politics. If serving the people is the main objective of politicians, then I do not see anything wrong with him accepting the appointments.

Hence, to criticize Lee blindly and out of party loyalty is not totally unexpected. But there is a stark reality in party politics. Power defines politics. For a long time, partisan politics is about power and authority. Service is only a side-effect of having won power. Lee should be given a chance to turn the notion around - power is secondary to service.

I have heard of some senior BN/Gerakan politicians warned their party leaders and members not to help the state government. Some of their remarks smacked of ill intention and were truly detrimental to the shared interests of the society and state. They have asked all members and leaders not to help out the new state government so that their governance will fail and this failure will help to propel BN/Gerakan back to power. At what cost? At the expense of 4-5 years of sabotage, hardship and decline?

Initially, I refused to believe what I heard but their reactions against Lee's appointments are testimony of their ill intention. Yet, many called him selfish. Selfish because he has chosen to serve the people and ditch the political masters.

Political parties and politicians come and go but the responsibity and loyalty to the state stays. No one should ignore the request to help their birthplace unless some are only lusting power and position. Yet, screwed up big time when given the mandate to serve for more than 18 years.

Lee was attacked by his former boss, Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who criticized Lee's lack of experience. He said:

"Lee has no direct experience in promoting investment in the industrial sector. So far, he has experience as a lawyer and a parliamentary secretary of the Health Ministry, which is unrelated to the manufacturing industry," said Koh. He said that under his administration the two investment agencies were helmed by people with vast experience and extensive international connections.

Dr Koh was even more raw when he was made the Chief Minister or CEO of Penang at the age of 41 years old. In terms of experience, he was only a one term MP and a political secretary to Dr Lim Chong Eu. But the people were willing to give him a chance. Looking at his own career, he should not be too early to judge his ex-colleague.
Lee had performed well as the Health Ministry parliamentary secretary. If Koh did consider Lee as a CM designate, what makes him think that Lee is not capable to perform effectively in his current roles? Koh should not smack his own lips.

The people of Penang want an economically vibrant Penang and if Lee can help to deliver results, I am sure his role and contribution will be greatly appreciated.

Lim Guan Eng is slowly being surrounded by good people too. Dr Woo Wing Thye is another example.

Gerakan should see this coming its way, afterall old guards who were largely responsible for the party's downfall are still hugging tightly to their position. What else can they expect Lee to do? Continue to help them keep their seat?

Back from Korea!

I am back from Korea. It was an eye opening experience. Over the next couple days, I will share with you what I have learned in Korea and from the interesting people I have met.

Many interesting events happened in Malaysia while I was away. I hope to comment on some of them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Going Overseas 17th to 22nd April

I will be in Korea from 17th to 22nd April. Updates will be scarce but I hope to be able to update on my activities in Seoul.

More videos, pictures and updates when I get back. I plan to upload my previous Chat 'n' Chill interview with MP Liew Chin Tong just before the poll and to bring back my internet chat and food review programme.

So watch this space!

Dare-NOT

Previously, ex-Penang Deputy Chief Minister and Chairman of Land Development and Land Affairs Committee, Abdul Rashid Abdullah, has challenged Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to expose the alleged land discrepancy cases that have supposedly taken place under the previous state administration.

Now he has denied making such a dare when CM Lim accepted his challenge. Worse, like many others, Abdul Rashid is using The Star as a punching bag.

He accused them for “...playing with words to sell newspapers. I did not challenge Lim to prove that he invited me. I challenged The Star because it was The Star that claimed I was invited. “So now everybody wants me to respond. How can I when I don’t know anything? I don’t care about Lim’s deadline. Who is he to give me an ultimatum? So what? I did my work,” he said.

Who is CM Lim? He is the Chief Minister who was elected by the people to lead the state. Hence, Lim is dispensing his duty to ensure any misappropriation is brought to book. Abdul Rashid was the person in-charge of land matters and yet he claimed ignorance. This is totally unacceptable. Should we send him for a medical check-up for memory loss? Just like Dr Mahathir at the VK Lingam inquiry?

On Tuesday, Lim had told a press conference that the state government wanted Abdul Rashid to explain why premium discounts were given to certain quarters and why state land was alienated to some big companies.

This is a serious matter because in the past the state administration claimed lack of state land as a prime reason for not being able to catalyst Penang's development. Many investments were directed to Kulim High Tech Park.

Near to the bridge, on the island side, the piece of land now occupied by Tesco, E-Gate and high-end condominiums was previously state land. Why was it alienated to a big developer? The original plan by the MPPP (local council) was to build a logistics transit point for buses going to and from Sebarang Prai to Bayan Lepas FTZ. Bigger lorries can also use the transit to unload to smaller vans and lorries to go into Georgetown. The original plan to ease traffic congestion on the Penang bridge during peak hours.

Why was the plan scrapped and the land alienated to a big developer?

We want the state government to continue investigate all improprieties.

Abdul Rashid must answer the public.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat or Anwar's Dreaming for Power?


Reported in Malaysiakini.com, de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim last night said he has the support of enough defectors from the ruling coalition to seize power, although he will not act until he has a bigger majority.

Learning from my experience during the last general election, I will not write off his claim. Anwar may have a trick or two up his sleeves. However, I would like to point out that such speculations about Pakatan Rakyat toppling the BN government through defections do not augur well for Malaysia.

The most important thing is for both coalitions to exercise the mandate given by the people and govern well. Malaysia needs to start showing foreign and local investors that we can work together to make this two party system works.

Any uncertainty created, such as calls to Abdullah to step down, is not going to be favourable to our economy. Investors, rightly advised by their fund managers, will adopt a wait-and-see attitude until there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Being objective, I can be quite naive politically to suggest that politicians should put national interests at the top priority. Ironically, politicians of all shades and leanings are hungry for power. Power defines politics. A while ago, a top PR leader shared with me why he thought winning state seats is important - to govern.

Nonetheless, I agree with Anwar that he should focus on making his coalition works and stay cohesive. Often repeated statements like this one by PAS spiritual leader, Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, is not healthy. Nik Aziz is convinced that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will eventually accept the Islamic state ideology.

Much as I support some of the election manifesto laid out by a few PR component parties on non-racialism, anti-corruption and others, I do not think the PR should go Islamic. Going Islamic is akin to going communal. Voters do not want to find themselves in a quandary. They do not need a religious coalition after they have helped to chase away a communal one.

Next time, many of them might just cast their votes for independents.

Insofar as Anwar aspires for national power, I would like to hear his stand on Islamic state, on Hudud law, on the status of the constitution and on Malay rights.

Perhaps he should start to make some policy related statements so that we can gauge if his coalition is the deserving government-in-waiting.

Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini.com

Public Transport in Penang


MRCB, a government-linked company, is keen to move ahead to implement an elevated Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Penang. This concept is similar to the LRT system implemented in KL. However, the narrow roads of Penang may not be suitable for such design.

The elevated beams may end up destroying the facade of the city and make development more rigid. Although the implementation cost is four times more expensive for underground, the state government should consider its benefits in the long run.

Otherwise, a good public bus system and effective enforcement to deter people from parking illegally along the streets of Georgetown will go a long way to educate the people about sustainable mode of transport. Inner Georgetown can be made pedestrian friendly. It is not a big city.

I agree with the call to start a state-controlled bus operation. Bus Users Group spokesperson Ong Boon Keong said “A state-controlled bus operation would be ideal because only the local, not federal, leadership would have in-depth knowledge of commuter requirements.”

Saying that this would enable the state to provide efficient, reliable and affordable bus service, Ong also said the would be revenue for the government from the privatisation project.

I am not too sure if there is an attractive upside to profit but I am sure a good bus service will act as catalyst for many economic activities in Penang.

Moreover, mainland-island connectivity and inter-state connectivity also need further improvement. Currently, not enough feeder buses are going to the airport and Sungai Nibong bus terminal.

This is a core issue which must be addressed immediately.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Muhyiddin is NOT even Half Accurate


Umno will fade away if immediate changes are not made to the leadership, its vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin said.

"If changes are not implemented, Umno will lose power and be unable to make a comeback."

"I worry that if no changes are made, the people will reject Barisan Nasional and Umno. I think the sentiments are growing among the grassroots, he added.

First, I hope Muhyiddin's definition of leadership includes leaders like him too. I remember that Muhyiddin was one of the leaders who rejected the notion of Bangsa Malaysia when it was mooted by Gerakan through its Anak Malaysia project.

A change of the leadership is necessary but the blame cannot be shouldered by Abdullah alone. The likes of Nazri Aziz, Hishammudin, Khairy, Ali Rustam and those race chauvinist delegates at the UMNO general assembly should be held responsible too.

Is Muhyiddin willing to call for the entire leadership, especially those who are directly responsible for making racist statements, to step down too?

A change of leadership i.e. the president/prime minister alone is not enough. Abdullah should not be made the sole scapegoat although as a president/prime minister he is doing a lousy job at controlling his people and managing the country well.

A change of mindset and culture of both UMNO and BN is equally important if the party and coalition want to survive and remain competitive in the political arena.

Most of the voters have voted for their future albeit a better one and not simply throwing tantrums at UMNO and BN.

Unless both UMNO and BN leaders wake up and face the reality, nothing can really be achieved by simply packing off Abdullah.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

End of Feudalism?

Tengku Mohammad Faris Petra Sultan Ismail Petra reiterated that nobody should challenge Malay rights and privileges, adding that these developments were becoming apparent following the recent general elections.

“It is not appropriate for the other races to demand equal rights and privileges after they had already acquired their citizenships,” he said.

Perhaps it is also important to note that one of UMNO's original objectives was to protect the position of the Malay rulers. The rulers had originally accepted the Malayan Union although it was obvious this may end their feudal rule. But Malay nationalist movements, primarily through UMNO, staged a nation wide protest against the Malayan Union which proposed to grant citizenship to all born in Malaya after 1957.

They nationalists also tried to safeguard the position of Malay rulers and Islam as the official religion of the state. Until the Mahathir era, Malay rulers enjoyed immunity from prosecution and received other special perks. During his era, the relationship between the UMNO politicians and the rulers became strained.

With this part of history in mind, it is not so difficult to understand why Tengku Faris is adamant that no non-Malay Malaysians should question Malay rights even if the practice of affirmative Malay policy did not benefit the lower rung Malays.

NEP, afterall is a feudal elitist construct.

The tengku mahkota (royal prince) should understand that chest beating alone will not help the Malays especially the downtrodden and the poor ones. What we need to do is to push the current political paradigm and socio-economic model towards more parity and fairness. This can only be achieved through a more open, transparent and democratic system of governance.

The verdict of the 12th GE is not about the Malay rights. Poor Malays, Indians, Chinese, Kadazans, Muruts etc. deserved to be assisted regardless of whether they are bumiputera or not.

Make no mistake that Malaysia cannot surge ahead if the income disparity between the richest 20% is many times more than those at the bottom 40%.

Maybe we should seriously consider ending feudalism too, not just the structure but mentality, foremost.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What is the Similarity Between DAP and Iskandar Malaysia?

Just moment ago, I attended a media night organised by the Iskandar Investment Berhad (formerly known as South Johor Investment Corporation Berhad). After a welcoming speech given by its Chief Executive Officer, the organising committee played the theme song to promote the Iskandar Malaysia.

We were told to sing along. Guess what? It was definitely a catchy tune and something probably a number of us have heard it played many times over during the general election campaign period.

Yes! It was the same tune and catchy melody used by the DAP as its campaign song - Just Change it!

No wonder Dr Mahathir is smelling rat.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Acute Food Shortages

Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has warned of a dire consequence of food shortages in many developing countries. Read here and here.

'The problem is very serious around the world due to severe price rises and we have seen riots in Egypt, Cameroon, Haiti and Burkina Faso,' he told reporters in New Delhi.

Malaysia, a relatively better endowed nation, is not exempted from this crisis. Hence, I support the federal government's decision to create a stockpile of food items especially rice to control prices from further escalation.

Since late 2003, we have experienced a sharp increase in cost of living due to higher prices of essential food items. This is results of a direct impact of higher fuel and raw materials costs.

Hence, several actions need to be taken by both the BN and PR coalitions:
  • Promote better management of internal resources to avoid wastage and non-performance and channel extra resources to the poor to mitigate the increase in cost of living,
  • Encourage local food production and upstream activities e.g. poultry, vegetable, fruits and rice cultivation,
  • Create a committee to look into issues faced by a new class of urban poor,
  • Review the current subsidy system to ensure our scarce funds are used for more appropriate functions, and
  • Create a contingency plan in the case of acute rice shortage

This crisis may soon be internalised by us. Coupled and made worse by unpredictable climate change and growing population in other parts of Asia and Africa, food shortages can become a global crisis which may even affect migration patterns, refugees, famine and riots.

Dr Mahathir the Equally Unbelievable!

In his letter to The Star, Dr M claimed that he has solved a 5-year old political mystery. He suggested an overt 'conspiracy' between the DAP and PM Abdullah.

His reason:
I had been used to the BN and even the Alliance Government before it, being criticised and attacked by DAP MPs even for imaginary misdeeds by them. However, after Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over, even the clear abuses of power and wrong actions by the Government were hardly commented upon by DAP stalwarts like Karpal and Lim Kit Siang.

I was puzzled. I could not believe the suggestion that there was a “pakat” (conspiracy) involving Abdullah and the DAP. But when Karpal advised me to retire with dignity and honour and refrain from criticising the present Prime Minister, I realised that the DAP actually supports Datuk Seri Abdullah and his continued stewardship of this country.

One cannot blame Dr M for not being aware of criticisms levelled at Abdullah especially by Lim Kit Siang. None of Lim's piercing articles and comments would have found a place in the mainstream media anyway. Second, Dr M despite having supported by a battalion of bloggers did not read the blog. He should check out Lim's blog.

DAP's support of PM Abdullah is not important. The most important thing is the premier still enjoys a clear parliamentary majority and support of his coalition, for now, to lead the country. It is the people's verdict that Dr M finds totally unacceptable. He has been calling for Abdullah's removal since the cancellation of the 'crooked bridge' project which links Johor to Singapore.

However, I do not agree with Karpal's call to Dr M to stop criticizing the PM. As a citizen, he is entitled to his strong views, preferences and opinions. But Dr M must be careful not to suggest a political coup to unseat the PM, which is deemed as an unconstitutional and undemocratic action.

Azalina the Unbelievable!

First, she decided to cancel all MoUs with the PR led states, which are important revenue earners for the country. Reason being the federal government did the same to Kelantan since 1990. Look at the state of tourism in Kelantan, if there is any at all.

Next, she said that new committee members will be appointed into the state tourism councils in the four states. She is doing so to bypass working with the respective state exco on tourism. Yet, she defended her action as non-political. The main reason she did not want to work with the five states is clear - political.

Now, she warned the Pakatan Rakyat states not to sabotage activities or programmes carried out by the Tourism Ministry. Azalina said she was told that in Langkawi, the state authorities carried out raids at entertainment outlets during the recent Langkawi Water Festival. The Kedah state authorities had been conducting Ops Noda Khas since April 2, the first day of the three-day water festival, and had been harassing patrons at KTV lounges, pubs and bistros.

To be fair, raids were conducted throughout the country even when BN was in-charge of the four states. In Shah Alam, pubs and discos had to resort to putting up signage to deter foreigners of a particular country from entering their outlets, causing an uproar overseas.

Perhaps when the parliament resumes, MPs will demand for Azalina's paycheck to be reduced accordingly since she is not interested to serve the rest of the country.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Malaysia Insider Interview on Malaysian Politics

ELECTION 2008, after 1 month: Hear it from Khoo Kay Peng, a keen observer of local politics

APRIL 8: The first is that we have not reached a stable point yet.The second is that the outcome of the general elections was not well-received by the politicians on both sides.

The first part does not augur well for the country economically. We don't have much time to lose now. There is the risk of the recession in the US, which could spread and affect the rest of the global market, and to have this compete with what is happening here now is not good.People from outside are looking in and wondering if there's any point in investing in our country. Stability can exist even without a 2/3 majority. It will not bode well for the country if the politicians do not settle this fast.

The second point is that many people are asking, "Who can be the next prime minister who can govern the country?" The uncertainty over this political issue appears on both sides, definitely it is a big question on the BN's side.

Logically, they should look at the BN formula again. They should look at why people in the 4 most industrialised states and Wilayah (theFederal Territory) voted for the Opposition.They should stop bickering and look into the weaknesses that lie in the BN formula and learn how to adapt, change and reform.

But what weare seeing are internal factions forming not just in Umno, but all theBN component parties. We do not see the inter-party cooperation, which is what is needed for BN to make a comeback.BN is being tested. They (the BN) can work together. But, to put it in terms of a football match, they cannot reuse the same strategy to score. They need to adjust, to enlargen the alliance model and to incorporate the other component parties and perhaps to form a single BN party for all ethnicities, to make it really possible for the survival of BN. As an observer, what I see people would want is this.

The sentiments from the other component parties, Gerakan, MCA, MIC is clear. They see it as Umno's fault for the defeat in the general elections. So for Umno to ask them to go back to the same old model again, where Umno has more authority than them, they will reject it.If Umno does not change...Umno may have lost the opportunity, but they have not lost entirely.

Umno has the power to truly become a national party. Look at how the Cabinet has formed over the years. Unfortunately, the leaders choose only to rule a Malay party; they're not moving away from a pro-Malay mindset, and are giving the impression that they are not interested intaking care of others.The problem is with the whole Malay rhetoric. Umno should have become a national party and should be able to show the way forward.

MCA, since 1969, has not been able to claim rule over the Chinese voters. The same goes with the other Chinese-dominant parties:Gerakan, DAP, SUPP. Like MCA, they have not changed their call. They want to play the race card but they are not able to deliver.That's why the people are punishing them for it.

MCA has always been welfare-oriented. After their big defeat in '69, they have still not recovered from their loss. They rejected the opportunity to merge with Gerakan and take similar steps forward.

Since '69, the people have been moving slowly away from race-basedpolitics, especially in the urban areas. They are not worried about who's protecting their welfare. They are concentrating oncontroversies, corruption, the politics of threat and the arrogance ofpower. They are put off by these issues.People are voting for good governance, although sentiments sometimescauses them to get carried away. What happened at the recent electionsis a good example of the direction of the voting trend

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Repeal the ISA

PM Abdullah Badawi has criticized Dr Mahathir for using the ISA to silence his political dissenters in the 1987 Operasi Lalang which resulted in 106 people being detained. Similarly, Abdullah should not use the same draconian legislation to detain the five Hindraf leaders.

If Abdullah is sincere in his criticism of Dr M, he should either charge the five community leaders in court or free them immediately. In any democratic system, detention without trial is against individual rights to freedom of peaceful expression, assembly and protest.

I have repeated this call in my interview with ABC Radio Sydney this morning. I hope to be able to make the same call in my TV interview with the network later at 4.30pm.

The government must be responsible for the well-being of its detainees. P. Uthayakumar's fiancee claimed that he did not get proper diabetes medication and food and, as a result, his health began to deteriorate.

This is a serious claim and Uthayakumar's health and medical needs must be attended to immediately.

PM Abdullah should do the right thing if he does not plan to walk the same path like Dr M. He should abolish the ISA and the nation will remember his contribution to the country for a long while.

True Measurement of Character

An ancient old Chinese wisdom told of a good way to measure a person's true character - give him wealth and power. Many mediocre leaders and lesser characters are often seduced by wealth and power. Many show their true colours once they attained either one of them.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said the Chinese and Indian vote swing helped the opposition gain more seats and states.

“Those who did not vote us are tiga suku (crazy),” he said.

For a note, I would not vote for a PAS candidate if we are facing an election now. Similarly, if in the past I have rejected and criticized arrogant leaders I would do the same to PAS and its president for making an out of the mind statement.

This is only one example. Recently, I have personally witnessed similar pattern (change of attitude) in some newly elected MPs and state assemblymen. The worse part is I have known some of them for years. It is a pain and a deep disappointment to see such a drastic change in behaviour in such short haul.

Elected representatives must remember where their position and authority came from. It was mandated by the people. Every 4 to 5 years you will have to come back to us, voters, for that mandate to be renewed.

We have entrusted in you a responsibity and not a social status. Keep your head swelling and you will be booted out like the others before you.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mini Hindraf in DAP?

Reported in Malaysiakini.com:

"The Penang Dap Indians want the state government to immediately establish a high powered state-level council that would function as a one-stop agency to manage all issues and matters pertaining to Indian affairs in the state.

Under the proposal, the council; namely the State Indian Development and Advisory Council or Pidac, would handle, deliberate, consider, manage, propose and make recommendations on all issues and matters pertaining to the Indian community interests, rights and benefits to the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

This encompasses issues and matters pertaining to the community's political and socio-economic interests and rights such as Tamil school, education, student, scholarships, religions, employment, government tenders, appointments to and functions of Indian based government bodies, and state awards and titles."

Just when we thought the Malaysian public is ready to take a path not previously taken - the racial road, the Penang Dap Indians have called for the establishment of a special committee on Indian rights. Before that, in Perak, Buntong Assemblyman A. Sivasubramaniam resigned and then retracted over the decision to appoint only one Indian exco.

It is not wrong for the state government to look into the needs and rights of the Indian community but also the rights of other communities as well.

This call is no different from the claims made by several Malay groups to respect and uphold the NEP. We know that this demand is precarious if the Malays are serious about uplifting the living standards of their own community.

The Penang Dap Indians must be mindful that if their suggestion is taken up by the state government, other communities will make similar request.

The end results is not going to be very much different from what we found in BN. For a start, there should not even be a Penang Dap Indians branch separate from the rest. If Dap is serious about its "Malaysian Malaysia" ideology, there should simply be one Dap the Social Democrats.

Help to Reform and Not Crush UMNO

I was at Ooi Kee Beng's book launch last night. His book, Lost in Transition, is available in Malaysiakini.com.

In his speech, Ooi said “It is not given that if Umno reforms itself, it would reform like how KMT did - meaning liberalise and play the democratic game. Fascism is always close at hand. We don’t want that to be encouraged. We should work to not crush Umno but help it along in its reforming process.”

Ooi has made a very important point. People who wanted to welcome a two-party system must ensure that the BN survives as a coalition, perhaps, in its new liberalised form. The coalition survival hinges on the fate of UMNO.

Although the election results was disastrous for the party, it still holds more than 50 percent (78 seats) of total seats won by the coalition. UMNO is without a doubt the backbone of the BN.

In my previous posts, I urged all politicians to respect the verdict of the people. Voters have chosen to deny BN its two-thirds majority but still trusted the coalition to lead the federal government.

Hence, any efforts to destabilize the Abdullah administration mustn't go against the grain of democracy. Undemocratic attempt to topple PM Abdullah will not augur well. Dr Mahathir has an axe to grind but his action must not be encouraged nor supported.

However, UMNO leadership should not take the people's wishes for granted. It is timely for them to start a real reform process in BN. Without a reformed and deracialize UMNO, it is highly unlikely for MCA, MIC and Gerakan to be rehabilitated.

In the next few months, Malaysian politics is going through an interesting period. Abdullah's fate will be and should be decided in the next UMNO party poll and not through a coup.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

ISEAS Talk on NEP





The interest on NEP was ignited aftermath of the 12th general election. At the ISEAS forum, the participants were interested to know if the results marked a rejection of the NEP. I argued that NEP is only a political tool. To understand the future of the policy, we need to look at some implications of the general election.

I offered five main observations. Firstly, the outcome of the GE showed a regional political divide of the populace. BN lost majority support in four key states and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur. Apart from Kelantan, it retained support of all rural and semi rural states including the poorest of Trengganu, Sabah and Sarawak. Meanwhile, the more urban and industrial states were won by the newly minted Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

From this observation, BN holds states with rich natural resources and PR governs in states with key human capital. For Malaysia to surge ahead economically, both BN and PR must work on a viable working relationship to combine both our natural resources and human capital. Failure to do so will disintegrate our economic structure.

Second, the GE was also a barometer of BN's economic management. Poor governance and economic planning is the main factor why BN was routed badly. Since post-1997, the BN government did not have a clear and concise urban development policy to address issues related to housing, squatters, poverty, job creation, inflation, public transport, crime, social ills and others. Its leaders, especially those from UMNO, had tried to divert their ineffectiveness and lack of imagination by pushing repeatedly both religious and communal buttons. This strategy merely backfired.

Calls made by the business community to review archaic regulations such as the Industrial Coordination Act, the FIC guidelines and other prohibitive socio-economic policies went unheeded. These policies were seen as the main fuel of UMNO's blatant racist politics but at a great expense of its partners in BN.

Thirdly, abuse of power, corruption, political scandals and deteriorating institutional integrity were causes of concern to the more educated segment of the society. All these symptoms pointed to the decay of the ruling coalition. At a result, many from the new generation of Malaysians took the plunge into civil activism work to counter the BN. Cyber activism took its roots from this movement.

Fourthly, the outcome of GE provided a crucial test and challenge to the BN elitist and feudalistic political model. I argued that BN is not true blue racial model but an elitist structure using race as a clever disguise. Clever because it managed to fool many Malaysians for close to 34 years since its inception in 1974.

Finally, BN ruling elites who used the NEP as a tool to enrich themselves and to distribute some resources to strengthen their political power found out that growing population and mediocre domestic economic performance will soon prick their bubble. The 12th GE, to a certain extent, did some damage to the continuation of the NEP. With promises of open tender, greater transparency and personal accountability, the power base is shifting away from the ruling elites towards the masses.

The most important question is are we seeing a more parity and democratic political milieu?

My advice is do not be euphoric but remained hopeful and engaged with the new political forces. What are the viable options for both BN and PR - for survival and sustainability?

For a start, both BN and PR should readjust their political language. Being communal or autocratic is no longer sexy. What is expected is gritty political will to deracialise and sanitize both political and policy language. Both coalitions must put unity as the main priority and not political squabbling. The latter will resign both coalitions to an early political death.

Politicians and law makers should work with the civil society to help enlarge the social sphere between communities in this country. We need more mutual collaboration and communication. A PAS lawmaker recently visited a church is a good sign. But the visit must be followed up with real dialogue aimed at improving inter-religious understanding.

It is without a doubt that Malaysia has lost out big time economically since post 1997. Hence, both coalitions must now focus on issues related to our global competitiveness, sustainable development, environmental protection, human capital enhancement and the promotion of new sectorial growth and not sectarian interests.

I would like to urge both BN and PR to work towards the abolishment of the old NEP which promotes selective communal affirmative action and replace it with a fair and equatable policy aimed at uplifting millions of Malaysians out of the bottom social rung.

The abolishment of NEP in its current tainted form will be a first step to heal long standing communal misunderstanding amongst Malaysians. It will also help to dismantle political patronage which uses the NEP as a tool to gather ill-gotten wealth and to corrupt.

Finally, both coalitions should help to promote and strengthen the rule of law in this country. Recent controversies surrounding the judiciary, the executive and the police force are negative to our nation's image and perception. It is likely that foreign and local investors will sit still and wait for the current political uncertainty to settle down.

Hence, lawmakers and politicians from both sides must now strive not only to make this country work but work better than the last decade.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng Summoned?

Penang's Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will be summoned by the police in connection with a probe into his statement that the open tender system will replace the affirmative action New Economic policy (NEP).

Acting state police chief Salleh Mat Rasid said on Wednesday that giving police a statement was a normal procedure in police investigations. 'Anybody can be hauled up to give a statement to assist in investigations, including the chief minister,' said Salleh.

Perhaps Salleh is merely following police procedure but to summon a law maker for making a policy statement is a bit out of his jurisdiction. Both the tender system and the new economic policy are policy matters beyond the ambit of the police.

How can a call for greater transparency in his own administration be tantamount to sedition?

Police must be careful not to look lopsided in doing their job. Many of us did not remember anyone being hauled up for making racist and hostile statements about the soaking the 'keris' with Chinese blood at a political assembly not too long ago.

Has Salleh called up Zainal Keling?

Either Way, Gerakan Loses KC Lee

Gerakan top leaders are going around the country to meet up with its respective state leadership. The initiative is good but is the motive the same?

Dr Koh Tsu Koon is working very hard to consolidate support for himself as the new president of Gerakan despite the disastrous defeat suffered by his party in the recent general election.

This is the contentious part. KC Lee believes that Dr Koh should step down as its acting president and allow an early party election to take place. Meanwhile, division leaders who supported Dr Koh have accused KC for trying to undermine the 'reform' process.

Observers are curious to know how Gerakan is going to be reformed if its leadership, especially those who had a hand in the embarrassing tussle for the chief ministerial position in Penang, is going to remain the same old people. Next, the leadership is still seen as dragging its feet to do something drastic and solid to reverse the flagging fortune of the party.

These are the two main reasons which prompted KC to resign from all positions and reiterated his call for a new mandate.

Rumours are Dr Koh would probably relinquish his state chairmanship of Gerakan Penang to someone else. However, KC is expected to face great resistant here if he tries to go for the state top post. Penang is still regarded by the party as its base, rightly or wrongly. Hence, the new state chairman will be given the task of wrestling back the state from Dap and its alliance in Pakatan Rakyat.

Another strong rival, Chia Kwang Chye, could go in between KC and his desire to lead Penang. Chia's supporters are still bitter over the way he was bundled out of the race. However, given the uneasy relationship between Dr Koh and Chia over this issue the former may just pull his support behind KC should a contest materialises between the two.

KC will have to choose between the two camps. On one hand is the man who put him on a CMship musical chair and on the other is a man who was his ally but grew apart leading to the poll.

Can Chia overcome his distrust of KC and support the latter to become the next state chairman? It will be a hard choice for KC. If Chia gives way, his dream of making a comeback in Penang evaporates. It appears that there is only enough room for one.

Even if KC wins in a contest, it will be difficult for him to find enough credible people to lead an onslaught on Penang. He and his team must be prepared to commit the next 10 years to have any hope of making a comeback. In politics, 10 days is already a long time.

The next possible scenario is for him to take on Dr Koh for the top position. Although Dr Koh will probably be challenged in the next party poll, there are actually three possible candidates who may take up the task - Dr Tan Kee Kwong, KC Lee and Chia Kwang Chye.

However, this contest will be much harder than the state contest which Dr Koh will readily give way knowing that it is difficult for him to make a comeback in Penang.

For sure, Dr Koh can count on the support of Dr Lim Keng Yaik who still commands support of the Central Committee and the Central Working Committee of the party. Dr Lim is expected to rally support for his handpicked successor whom he dubbed as the best man to lead Gerakan after him. Moreover, his legacy is at stake if Dr Koh is defeated.

Among the three candidates, only Chia can expect to pose a serious challenge against Dr Koh. But it is not in his veins to challenge the party leadership. Chia is expected to stay neutral and go for the number two position if given the opportunity.

Hence, if KC goes for the top position we might see a reunion of Dr Koh and his one-time special assistant Chia. It is not possible for KC to contest alone. He needs a team of 7 credible leaders - President, Deputy President, 3 VPs, Treasurer and Secretary General.

From the two scenarios, it is obvious that Dr Koh has an upper hand. Unless KC is willing to forge an alliance with the man he criticizes prior to his resignation, it will be meaningless for him to use his resignation as a catalyst for change.

With the central committee, state and division leaders firmly behind both Dr Koh and Dr Lim, a change in the leadership is not going to be possible. Perhaps what the leadership is trying to do is to 'reinvent' Dr Koh and rebrand him as a man who is still committed to the party's cause.

It is obvious that Dr Koh is trying to divert the blame put on him to national sentiments. Dr Lim just told him to "shut up and continue working". Hence, do not hold your breath to witness a radical reform in Gerakan. In the party, slow and steady is the trend. In another words, leaders are told "not to rock the boat".

KC just did the opposite and it appears that he is not going to gain much unless he is willing to embrace a slow and steady attitude and follow the current tempo. Otherwise, conflicting interests, mutual distrust and powerful brokers in the party are surely going to derail his intention to reform and lead the party.

KC said he disagrees with Dr Koh's leadership style and unless he changes his mind, he may find himself either booted out or resigned from the party.

Either way, Gerakan loses KC Lee.