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DAP meet: Leadership spat buries national issues

The Penang DAP convention yesterday barely discussed any issue of state or national interest, for it was overshadowed by arguments over the spat among the party's top leaders.

Several Indian Malaysian delegates who spoke had to be reined in by security personnel as they touched on "very sensitive" issues that had plagued the party over the past week.

Instead of discussing issues of state or national interest, the convention was overshadowed by the 'warlord-godfather' spat between national chairperson Karpal Singh and Penang deputy chief P Ramasamy.

Although party leaders and delegates kept reminding themselves that Umno and BN are their greatest enemies, there was little criticism of the rival party during the debate.

At one point, delegates shouted at a colleague for saying that another (S) Samy Vellu was in the making within the DAP.

The delegate - S Sukumar - was referring to Ramasamy, saying that the DAP should not allow the likes of an ex-MIC chief to resurface in the party.

Sukumar was referring to the allegations that Ramasamy had awarded his cronies many state contracts, which the latter has vehemently denied.

The contracts are said to involve Tamil school development and computer supply, the Penang Water Supply Corporation and the Penang Hindu Endowment Board.

Some delegates got up and shouted: "There is no Samy Vellu in Penang. Balik lah!" before security personnel rushed to calm them down.

Delegate S Gunalan had to be halted when he took the microphone and started talking about controversial issues involving the endowment board.

When several security personnel surrounded him, delegates shouted "Let him talk", but they were told point blank by the debate session chairperson that "we will not allow discussions on the board, please use the proper channels to raise this issue".

'CEC should step in'

Amaldass Michael ticked off party leaders and central executive committee (CEC) for not playing a prominent role to resolve the 'godfather' crisis.

He said the CEC, which also consists of party elders, should have called the warring factions and resolved the matter internally, instead of allowing it to blow up publicly.

"It does not have to come to this. The question of asking forgiveness, say sorry, let's do it, we are comrades. Our greatest enemy is the BN, no one else," Amaldass said.

Quite unexpectedly, Chong Eng's husband K Gunabalan, a rather reserved personality, took over the mike to castigate Ramasamy for his unsatisfactory service as Penang deputy chief minister.

He lamented that Ramasamy had chided him for wanting to organise a protest against the use of the textbook 'Interlok', described as an insult to the Indian community, by saying "don't get me involved".

"He even criticised my wife for nepotism because I was appointed a member of the JKKK (village security and development committee)," Gunabalan said angrily.

'Weak leadership' in state DAP

Delegate Steven Sim, a former assistant to Chong, criticised the weak leadership for not being able to unite its members.

He said the party needs to reconsider and review the various appointed appointments, be it in the party, JKKK or municipal councils.

"We cannot operate like last time, like they did in the BN, MCA or MIC. We have different
dreams from BN. They dream of 'ketuanan', we dream of a Malaysia for all," he added.

G Asogan urged the leaders to listen to its members, saying many complaints have been lodged over several issues, but that these have been given little attention.

The DAP has struggled through the years and finally managed to lead the Penang government over the last three-and-a-half years.

"You can tell me I am wrong. But leaders must listen to us, cooperate with us. We are not here to destroy the DAP," Asogan said.

When he suggested that the Seri Delima assemblyperson could also apologise (for saying that the DCM post for Indians had to be begged for), shouts of approval were heard, but these were shot down when the chairperson reminded them not to disrupt the debate.

Leaders questioned on hudud law

Other delegates emphasised on party unity and ticked off the leaders for readily going to the press instead of resolving issues internally, knowing that the BN-linked media is out to undermine the Pakatan Rakyat as the 13th general election draws near.

The only issue of national interest - hudud law - was raised by Berapit delegate Ng Chin Hui, who asked how the DAP would explain its relationship with PAS which has insisted on implementing the Islamic legal code.

"I am often asked this by the grassroots, who want to know how the DAP will form the next federal government in Putrajaya if it and PAS cannot see eye to eye on the hudud issue," Ng said.

Desa Darus cautioned party leaders that the BN media is harping on the hudud law issue to disunite the Pakatan coalition, as had happened with the break-up of Brisan Alternatif coalition in 2001.

"Party leaders must not be troublemakers over minor issues, but unite as Pakatan did in 2008, to ensure victory over several state governments in the coming election," Desa added.

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