THERE are many smiling faces here after Pakatan Harapan swept Penang and captured several states after the general election. It also formed the Federal Government.
But, of course, some who supported Barisan Nasional are dejected. Indeed, the outcome was totally unexpected.
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak thought he would still be in power but many are now saying he is the cause for Barisan to lose so badly.
The coalition’s candidates in Penang must be feeling miserable that they were tossed aside after spending much time and money during their campaign rounds.
They have been lambasting the Pakatan state government over a host of issues for some two years. Then Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was taken to task over environmental woes, mega projects and land reclamation.
There were many press conferences held at the Penang Gerakan headquarters as well as site visits such as the Peel Avenue land earmarked for the expansion of aprivate hospital, Gurney Driveand hillslopes.
It was a trying time for newspaper editors who had to assign their reporters to cover at least two Gerakan press conferences a day, including invitations extended at the last minute, since there were many other events to cover as well.
Despite all this, only four of the 53 Barisan candidates survived the Pakatan onslaught.
Teh Yee Cheu, the former Tanjong Bunga DAP two-term assemblyman who contested in Sungai Pinang under the Parti Sosialis Malaysia ticket, must still be wondering why he was routed.
He was riding high with his track record of being pro-environment but ended up losing his RM5,000 election deposit just like other newcomers from miniscule parties. A total of 76 candidates lost their deposits in Penang.
People in Tanjong Bunga who have been complaining of environmental issues have picked Zairil Khir Johari of the DAP instead of his opponent, state Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow.
Some voted for Teng so that he would be in a position to raise the issues in the state assembly but more voted for the bigger picture of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leading Pakatan to capture Putrajaya.
Voters in Tanjong Bunga might have opted for Zairil, believing that the state government would sort out the mess eventually, since the DAP candidate has the ears of Lim.
Pakatan’s victory in Penang is also because of the strong support for Lim. Many admire his guts for taking on federal leaders.
I humbly feel Penangites played a big role in influencing the rest of the country to reject Barisan.
On Feb 11, 2008, they set the momentum when they said “no” several times when asked by Najib whether they supported Barisan, during a Chinese New Year open house concert by Korean superstar Psy at the Han Chiang school field.
They continued to give strong support to Pakatan in the last general election. For GE14, they attended Pakatan ceramah in droves and the pictures were shared in the social media. It sent a strong message to Malaysians that Penangites were in the forefront for ubah (change) at federal level.
Back to Teh. I sympathise with him since I’m always on the side of the underdog. He simply lost to Dr Mahathir’s juggernaut.
Teh not only spoke out on environmental issues. He went a step further by requesting that the chief minister’s term of office be limited to two terms.
The DAP could not control him. By criticising his own party, Teh overstepped his boundary, leaving him with no choice except to leave.
Under the impression that the poor and middle class of people in Sungai Pinang would embrace him, he stood there but was cast aside.
If people-oriented leaders are shown the door, then I reckon it may not be necessary for elected representatives to work hard on the ground.
It is sufficient for them to show their face in their constituency on and off. After that, they can post some pictures on Facebook of them attending dinners, doing walkabouts and giving hampers to the poor.
There is no need for them to tackle tough issues such asproperty management woes offlat-dwellers.
I feel elected representatives should only serve for two terms. Only those who truly excel should be considered for another term. This include state exco members.
By staying on, they are depriving others a chance of serving the people. When they overstaytheir welcome, they begin to feelinvincible and will start to throw their weight around.
The DAP has done well to introduce new faces who were previously councillors who performed well.
Old faces should make way for new blood unless they think they have the calibre of Dr Mahathir, Lim or new Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
The Penang state exco lineup will be announced in a day or two. I hope there will be many new faces.
I remember a line from the Hindi movie Chennai Express that was frequently uttered by Shah Rukh Khan: “Don’t underestimate the power of the common man.”
The common man has spoken loud and clear. I am one of the millions of Malaysians overjoyed that there will be a better future for the country and our children.
With Chow taking over as chief minister, I am sure there will be more state government consultations with non-governmental organisations.
Chow, I believe, will not bulldoze in projects that are not to the liking of Penangites. He is humble and soft-spoken. He must be firm on what is best for Penang. Fingers crossed.