March 22, 2013
Developments in Penang: LGE and his Post GE-13 Team
by Susan Loone (o3-21-13) @http://www.malaysiakini.com
Unlike his dad, DAP senior adviser Lim Kit Siang, who was willing to have his candidacy announced on Monday, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng appears more cautious and calculative.
Up to now, it is uncertain where Guan Eng would contest but his fan club thinks that the DAP secretary-general could battle for any seat and emerge victor.
There is speculation that Guan Eng (left) won’t be contesting a state seat and has set his sights further ashore – just in case Pakatan Rakyat manages to seize Putrajaya at the coming polls – to enable him to secure a federal minister’s post.
But so far there is nothing to support this view as Guan Eng looks like a leader who intends to stay put in Penang, at least for another term.
The signs are all there, in how determined he is to see his plans work, among them, the much-debated RM6.3 billion integrated road project, which includes an undersea tunnel linking the island to the mainland.
Guan Eng must see to it that the state’s ten -year master plan dubbed ‘The Penang Paradigm’ becomes a reality instead of it just being a sandiwara , confirming what his opponents think, ahead of the 13th general election.
Some quarters are wagering that Guan Eng’s would eventually “depend” on where state BN chief Teng Chang Yeow contests.
It is becoming increasingly likely that Teng (right) – a former state exco member – would be slated for a spot on the mainland to try and make a political comeback.
He, too, is keeping mum on his choice, but has been seen to be spending much time on the mainland, attending to various party activities.
He stands a good chance since Bukit Tengah has been described as PKR’s weakest link, that is, if he does not face off with Guan Eng, in which case, he would have a tough fight.
It might do well for Teng’s political career if he is willing to try his chance at being a giant slayer, as he is after all, BN’s choice for the CM’s post if they recapture Penang.
As CM potential, Teng must have the courage to enter the lion’s den, but will he put his political future at risk?
The Gerakan secretary-general is even reluctant to face state DAP chairperson Chow Kon Yeow (left) in his former seat, Padang Kota Lama, for fear of a backlash from residents he had reportedly neglected after losing the seat in 2008.
So, he is keeping his cards close to his chest, not because of timidity, but a matter of strategy, as he might have got wind of Guan Eng’s plan to trail him no matter where he goes.
It is learnt that Guan Eng plans to finish off Teng’s political career – even before it takes off – by not allowing him any chance at a seat at the state legislative assembly.
If this comes to pass, some seat swapping between DAP and PKR is inevitable, no matter how the latter might resent it, after their party supremo Anwar Ibrahim handed over the Bentong (Pahang) and Gelang Patah seats to DAP.
In any case, Guan Eng’s chances seem brighter than his two deputies, whose political fates hang in the balance.
Two new DCMs for Penang?
If things go as intended by certain quarters, Penang may see two new deputy chief ministers (DCM) if Pakatan retains Penang.
DCM I Mansor Othman’s parliamentary candidacy has already been announced in Nibong Tebal, but he is totally uncertain if he would be fielded in a state seat. That does not bode well for him as a state PKR chief nor as a DCM.
Mansor’s “cocky, arrogant and tokong” remark against Guan Eng may have sealed his fate in the state leadership although both leaders put on a chummy and united front in public, not allowing any show of hostility between them.
But others say that Anwar is trying to keep the DAP satisfied during this season of seat negotiations, and might field Mansor – his loyal supporter way back before 1998 – in a state seat after all.
If the earlier speculation is correct, who will replace Mansor if Pakatan retakes Penang? All eyes are turned on state legislative speaker and PKR state deputy chief Abdul Halim Hussein to assume the post.
Abdul Halim (right) has a pleasant and professional demeanour and appears to work well with Guan Eng.
It is learnt that PKR had wanted to offer the DCM I post to former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, if he had agreed to fight under the party’s ticket in Penanti, and win the seat.
However, PKR’s hopes were dashed when Mohd Asri showed little interest in becoming a candidate or joining party politics.
His recent meeting with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak while negotiations are going on, has put him in the bad books of the party.
Making Abdul Halim DCM is not such a bad move as he is a true blue Penangite – hailing from Balik Pulau – and a well-known Malay leader since keeping a non-partisan view when carrying out his duties as speaker of the state legislative body, though Umno leaders may disagree.
But what about state exco member and Batu Maung rep Abdul Malik Kassim (left), one of the most hardworking state exco members, waiting on the wings since the departure of former DCM I Fairus Khairuddin?
Abdul Malik is a moderate Muslim leader and his role as the Penang Islamic Affairs Council chairperson is very much needed especially when non-Muslims in the state continue to be disturbed by the actions of Malay rights group PERKASA and its various NGO allies.
Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning threat over Guan Eng’s demand for the word Allah to be allowed in Malay Bibles in January, is a case in point while Abdul Malik came out strongly to condemn the action, saying it was against the true nature of Islam.
The other DCM – P Ramasamy is rumoured may be dropped from his Prai state seat as well, and may be vying for only the Batu Kawan or another parliamentary seat.
DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh’s ‘one-candidate-one-seat’ policy – which exempts only Lim – will see to this.
Karpal’s son – Dato Keramat assemblyperson Jagdeep Singh – may be the one candidate with the most potential for a DCM post.
It is learnt that he had been offered the post in 2008, but declined due to his legal work commitments. Is Jagdeep (right) ready for it now? Will the DAP be accused of nepotism if this comes to pass?
In any case, Ramasamy, being a party stalwart and a loyal soldier of Guan Eng – may be retained in Penang, if the latter has his way. Whatever the outcome, Penang is not, as some quarters feel, a forgone conclusion.
Penangites have much to look forward to once Najib dissolves Parliament, perhaps on March 26, and the candidates lists for all parties announced close to nomination day.
In the long-awaited polls, which must be called by June 28, Penang has 40 state seats up for battle and either side would need 21 to form a state government with a simple majority.
Currently, DAP holds 19 seats, PKR nine and PAS one, while UMNO has 11. Gerakan and MCA took a harsh beating, failing to secure any place in the last polls, making the election the worst of its kind for both non-Malay parties since BN ruled Penang from 1969.