As the state elections draw nearer, competing parties and coalitions have rolled out their respective line-ups of candidates.
Obviously, a number of politicians have been dropped from the lists, sparking unease and complaints among them.
While these gripes can be dismissed as the sheer frustration of sour grapes, the discontent expressed by a few has caught public attention. In fact, it may deserve close scrutiny, especially if there is some grain of truth to it.
The articulated dissatisfaction may have grave implications for the fortunes of the affected parties in the 12 August state elections.
For instance, former Penang DAP leader Satees Muniandy, who was dropped from the candidate list, claimed that someone he referred to as “emperor” had the clout to decide on the party’s candidates for Penang. This is a serious accusation.
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Worse, the incumbent state assembly member for Bagan Dalam insisted that most of the politicians said to be aligned with caretaker Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow were not selected to contest, alluding to the existence of fissures and favouritism in the party.
Satees has since announced his resignation from the DAP, and will defend his seat as an independent while maintaining his unwavering support for Chow.
Equally disturbing, David Marshall also quit the DAP recently, only to contest the Perai seat as an independent. Perai is the seat of the caretaker second Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy.
The former Seberang Perai city councillor said he was making the foray to ensure that Chow remains as chief minister after the election. This strategy, he said, was aimed at “freeing Penang from [DAP chairman] Lim Guan Eng”.
Marshall claimed Lim is eyeing the coveted post of chief minister.
Ramasamy also waded into the controversy, wondering whether his party was still the same DAP he had joined almost two decades ago.
He lamented a lack of transparency in announcing the state line-up because no one consulted him before the announcement was made. His name, too, was not on the list.
It was said the new list is to allow for the party’s much-needed rejuvenation, hence, the appearance of younger candidates. But then, some people wondered why another set of younger politicians were dropped.
Closing party ranks, as Lim proposed recently, is the right thing to do in the face of the state elections.
However, these grouses leave a bad taste in the mouth, especially when they relate to a party that professes itself to be democratic and transparent. An allegation of a so-called emperor dominating the DAP is not comforting either.
This may trigger a backlash from largely ethnic Indian voters, particularly supporters of Satees and Ramasamy, who might turn their backs on the DAP-Pakatan Harapan – or, at the very least, stay away from the voting booth.
Similarly, the apparent lack of consultation between Umno-PH and Barisan Nasional components the MCA and the MIC regarding the selection of state seats has led to the two parties’ decision to sit out the polls.
But this is not the only issue that has emerged.
What is also noteworthy is that a certain MIC politician, in particular KR Parthiban, was seen flirting with Perikatan Nasional, prompting a prediction that a number of MIC supporters may be persuaded to have a change of heart at the ballot box.
Parthiban was spotted at a PN launch of its Indian supporters’ club secretariat on 23 July in Tanjong Karang, where he justified his presence by saying that it was PH, not BN, that was contesting there.
The suspended MIC central working committee member said the party leadership’s message was clear, which is to support BN candidates.
To be sure, PKR is Parthiban’s arch-enemy because he lost the Ijok state seat to the party some time ago.
Additionally, PKR’s defiance in nominating its Shah Alam deputy chairman, Najwan Halimi, for the Selangor state election despite opposition to his enlistment could alienate some Indian voters at a time when PN is aggressively wooing the Indian electorate.
Najwan, a leader of the supposedly multi-ethnic PKR, recently made a racist remark that disparaged the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) as an “Indian estate party” and Sivaranjani Manickam, the party’s candidate for the Meru seat. He has since apologised.
There can never be a perfect list of candidates, but such human imperfections should not justify any opaque and undemocratic mode of selection. – The Malaysian Insight