PETALING JAYA: Political analysts say the recent ousting of former Selangor DAP chairman Tony Pua from the party’s state committee was “widely expected” as some of his decisions for DAP had been seen as “unacceptable” by party veterans.
James Chin from the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said Pua’s loss had been predicted by the Chinese media.
“The old DAP members are very Chinese-centric and do not like changes brought in by new leaders such as Pua,” Chin told FMT, referring to Pua’s decision in 2008 to open up the party to more non-Chinese professionals.
He also cited Pua’s determination to train DAP members with no Chinese education background to become party leaders.
“They (the veterans) are still living with the old mindset,” Chin said. “It’s the old divide between the Chinese ground and those who want to move DAP to a more multiracial ground. It is not only in Selangor; other states are also having some problems.
“Some of the old guys are Chinese educated and they do not like the Western-educated leaders who they think do not defend the Chinese culture and language enough.”
On Sunday, Pua, who is the Damansara MP, secured only 292 votes, failing to make it into the state committee.
The political secretary to the finance minister did not defend his post as state DAP chairman.
Chin urged DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and his son, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, to take note of the trend, warning that if they could not move the party towards a more multiracial ground, DAP would have a limited future and lose popularity.
Out of the 724 votes cast at the Selangor DAP state ordinary convention 2018, Selangor state exco Ng Sze Han received 491, followed by Tiew Way Keng with 463 and Ronnie Liew with 442.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo was chosen as the new Selangor DAP chairman. He was among those who polled the highest votes in the election to the state committee, which then chose him as the chairman.
Pua’s loss saw messages of support from Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh and Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin, who were both persuaded to join politics by Pua in the last decade. Both are federal ministers now.
However, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia political geo-strategist Azmi Hassan told FMT it was “quite odd” that Pua, who is Guan Eng’s “point man”, had been ousted from the Selangor DAP committee.
Pua should have at least been elected as a “thank you gesture” for his work with the party, he added.
“The most probable reason is that the delegates want to send a message to Guan Eng that there is discontent among DAP members regarding the way DAP is heading under him,” he said.
“There is also the possibility that the delegates are of the opinion that Pua cannot work with the new Selangor DAP chairman, Gobind.
“Whatever the reason, it is quite clear that Pua’s grip on Selangor and the national DAP is fading.”
Awang Azman Awang Pawi from Universiti Malaya, meanwhile, said Selangor DAP grassroots likely wanted a fresh line-up of leaders that were not seen as being close to the national leadership.
“The sentiment on the ground to replace Pua with Ng was brewing even before the state DAP elections. They want more local leaders in the state committee line-up,” he told FMT.
He also said the Selangor DAP members were unhappy that the party’s top leaders were making decisions without them and the state leadership.
Awang Azman said this could be seen in the 14th general election line-up of DAP candidates, and the decrease in councillors in state governments where more PPBM and Amanah leaders were taken on instead.
He noted that DAP national organising secretary Loke Siew Fook, who is not considered close to Guan Eng’s family, had been able to rise up in the party and join the ranks of a minister. Loke is now the transport minister.
Awang Azman said Loke was considered an “idol” by the DAP grassroots.
“The grassroots did not want the leadership to be seen as overly dominated by those close to Guan Eng’s family, so there is more space for them to speak out and have more local leaders.”
Two other controversial issues said to have riled the grassroots are the Balakong by-election which led to an open protest from the grassroots when their preferred candidate was not chosen, and the Mass Rapid Transit feeder bus issue, where Pua vouched for Grabcars as a replacement.
Pua also said after the goods and services tax was replaced with the sales and services tax that the prices of goods would go down, but that did not happen, Awang Azman said.
“That led to dissatisfaction on the ground.”