Koh Tsu Koon talked about winning back Penang in two elections’ time. The interview was originally in Oriental Daily and the excerpt in English can be found in the Sun today.
With all due respect the former CM for his “gentlemanly” conceding of the defeat after election, I think Koh has a poor sense of politics despite so many years in the business, at least way poorer than that of Lee Kah Chuan and Dr Tan Kee Kwong who are now serving the Penang and Selangor PR governments.
Gerakan will never win back Penang. It may not even last much longer than the next election. There is only one way to save this party but the party has not been advocating it.
Here’s why I confidently predict the doom day for this multiethnic party which many Malaysians like.
The cruel fact is that Gerakan has become the new PPP after March 8. Ever after joining BN and then loosing its control on Ipoh in 1970s, PPP has been in decline, not withstanding Kaveas’s efforts to revive it in recent years.
Gerakan survived the marginalization after its joining BN merely because it controlled Penang. For majority of the Chinese in Penang, Gerakan’s value is pure simple: to secure the position in the hand of CMship, or more generally, to prevent an UMNO CM.
For that reason, they had largely voted for Gerakan in state elections. In 1990, they swung to DAP which took 14 out of 31 seats, which was only two seats shy from a simple majority. That triggered a great fear for many Chinese voters who returned to BN in 1995, seeing no chance that the opposition can takeover. DAP had been left with one seats for three elections.
Come next election, would the Chinese Penangite, who have been lectured by Gerakan for so many years about the importance of a Chinese CM, take the risks to vote for Gerakan and MCA and return a UMNO CM even if these parties present better candidates?
Following the logic of ethnic politics, the choice is clear, unless you know everyone else is voting for a change, don’t do it or your communal representation will be spread too thin to benefit your ethnic rivals.
Now, if Gerakan is not likely to win many (if any) seats in next election, why should the best brains stay in that party to wait for a second chance?
That’s why Lee opted for the non-salaried position in Penang State Government.
Now, if Gerakan can’t survive in Penang, how can it survive in other states when the chance of becoming a key party is even slimmer?
That’s why Tan from KL accepted the offer from neighbouring Selangor.
The writing is on the wall. Can’t Koh see it?
The only way out is to have local elections. Why? At least in George Town, the Chinese who constitute the majority of the electorate will not be worried to split their votes too thin between DAP+PKR and Gerakan+MCA.
Local elections were why PPP made it in Kinta Valley in the 1950s and 1960s. The suspension was why PPP was forced to join BN and went into subsequent decline. Have local elections been revived, Kaveas’ efforts may stand slightly better chance to succeed.
The only one man in Gerakan who sees the vitality of local elections is sadly none-other-than Tan, who called for election for DBKL. And this man is on his way out from Gerakan and into PKR.
Is it too early to write off Gerakan? No. Not unless there are local elections.