MEM­BERS TOLD TO GO BACK TO BA­SICS

Vice-pres­i­dent be­lieves party still has hope de­spite Mah not de­fend­ing pres­i­dency

New Straits Times - - NEWS / NATION - MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING KUALA LUMPUR cnews@nstp.com.my

AGERAKAN leader has urged party mem­bers to go back to the party’s ba­sics to re­gain their fight­ing spirit be­fore fac­ing their op­po­nents in the gen­eral elec­tion in five years’ time.

Party vice-pres­i­dent Datuk Dr Do­minic Lau Hoe Chai said de­spite chal­lenges that the party faced af­ter fail­ing to win a seat in the 14th Gen­eral Elec­tion (GE14), Ger­akan could re­main rel­e­vant if it stuck to its orig­i­nal strug­gles.

He said there was hope for the 50-year-old mul­tira­cial party, de­spite the decision yes­ter­day by pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong not to de­fend his post in the up­com­ing party polls.

Lau, who lost to PKR-al­ligned in­de­pen­dent can­di­date P. Prabakaran in the Batu par­lia­men­tary seat on May 9, said it was im­por­tant for Ger­akan mem­bers to un­der­take con­sol­i­da­tion ef­forts, es­pe­cially since it left Barisan Na­sional on June 23.

“The di­rec­tion for Ger­akan now is to move on as an in­de­pen­dent party af­ter pulling out of BN. We need to con­sol­i­date our party.

“In or­der to be able to com­pete in the next gen­eral elec­tion, we need to en­sure that we have strong grassroots.

“Ger­akan is a grassroots-based po­lit­i­cal party, and we need to go back to ba­sics and re­gain our fight­ing spirit,” Lau told the New Straits Times yes­ter­day.

He was re­spond­ing to Mah’s shock an­nounce­ment dur­ing the Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan Ger­akan 43rd del­e­gates con­fer­ence in Serem­ban yes­ter­day, where Mah said he would not be de­fend­ing his post in the Nov 17 party polls.

Mah, who is for­mer plan­ta­tion in­dus­tries and com­modi­ties min­is­ter, said the decision was due to the party’s poor per­for­mance in GE14. Ger­akan lost in all 11 par­lia­men­tary and 31 state seats that it con­tested.

When speak­ing to the NST, Mah said he had ini­tially wanted to re­sign as party pres­i­dent right af­ter the big de­feat in the gen­eral elec­tion, but he chose to stay on at the re­quest of party lead­ers and mem­bers.

“I will help with the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion ef­forts un­til our an­nual gen­eral meet­ing.

“I re­ceived many ap­peals from party mem­bers in the last few months (to stay on). The party’s Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan con­fer­ence also passed a res­o­lu­tion to­day (yes­ter­day) for me stay on. But I told them that I will not stand (as the party’s pres­i­dent) again.”

Mah said he did not want to stay on be­cause the party needed new faces to un­dergo trans­for­ma­tion.

“I think we have younger lead­ers to take over (the lead­er­ship) the party. I also be­lieve I need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the poor per­for­mance of the party in GE14,” said Mah.

Many other Ger­akan lead­ers shared his sen­ti­ments about the need for the party to be re­ju­ve­nated, par­tic­u­larly in its lead­er­ship line-up.

Lau said the party was im­ple­ment­ing a new pol­icy to en­sure that top posts at branch, di­vi­sion, state and na­tional-lev­els would be open for con­test in the up­com­ing party polls.

He said the ef­fort would fur­ther em­power Ger­akan mem­bers, and ad­dress com­plaints about the poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the top lead­er­ship and grassroots.

He said Ger­akan also looked for­ward to us­ing its own logo in the gen­eral elec­tion and by-elec­tions in fu­ture.

Lau also did not dis­count the pos­si­bil­ity of join­ing forces with other par­ties.

“We are try­ing to cre­ate a new Malaysian im­age. We will give our sup­port to which­ever party that come up with a good pol­icy that align with our ide­ol­ogy,” he said.

Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong

Datuk Dr Do­minic Lau Hoe Chai

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