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Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 8:59:00 AM
Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 4:38:35 PM
by l. suganya
PETALING JAYA: It will be a battle between a street fighter and a consensus builder for the Gerakan presidency tomorrow.
The 2,298 delegates will have to decide if they want the aggressive approach of Penang Gerakan chief Teng Chang Yeow or the light-handed approach of acting secretary-general Datuk Mah Siew Keong for the party's survival.
The straight fight between Teng and Mah came about after the party's acting president Datuk Chang Ko Youn, who replaced Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon as head of Gerakan, decided not to contest the top post.
Teng, 49, was recently elected as Gerakan Penang chairman while Mah, 52, once served as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries, Teluk Intan MP and Pasir Bedamar assemblyman.
Political analysts differ as to who among the two leaders will be able to revive the party which has lost its clout among Penangites who voted in DAP in the past two elections.
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng opined that Teng's 'street-fighter' approach is no longer relevant for the party.
"It could be a good thing but it also tends to make the leaders more emotional. What is needed now is a leader with the political will to serve the nation," he said.
"We want a leader who can control his emotions, debate and provide intellectual as well as factual arguments."
Khoo said Teng should concentrate on his post as Penang Gerakan chief and leading the campaign against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of DAP instead of contesting for the top post.
"Gerakan places a lot of importance in Penang politics. The party now has to work out it's political directions; whether it is going to focus on national policies or win back the support and core people in Penang," he said.
He added that Teng's responsibilities were quite substantial as the leader of Penang Gerakan.
"In this context, it is more beneficial for the members to work together. Teng does not have enough stomach space to digest both," he said.
Khoo said Mah's experience in the federal government and him being a lawyer would be an asset.
"He speaks sense, his is calm and not too aggressive. That is the kind of leader Gerakan needs,” he said.
"But, he will need to have the political will to bring the necessary changes. We can’t see it yet because he is not yet a leader. He will have to prove to Gerakan that he is not another Koh Tsu Koon and can lead the party."
While Khoo seemed more optimistic of the future of Gerakan with the proper leadership, political analyst Dr James Chin was less so.
Gerakan is widely seen as a failure for Barisan Nasional type of multi-racial politics, and the problem with the party is that really talented non-Malay leaders are moving towards DAP and PKR, Chin said.
"Whoever that gets elected as the new Gerakan leader is actually 'drinking poison' since Gerakan will not recover in the next general elections,” he said.
"The problem now is that there is no political space for Gerakan in BN, UMNO, MCA and MIC are all playing racial politics and Gerakan's type of politics has no place in Barisan."
Chin said the only reason some politician still wanted to be in Gerakan is because the party can still be appointed to positions like senatorship and it has some million-dollar assets like Menara PGRM.
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