MEMBERS TOLD TO GO BACK TO BASICS
Vice-president believes party still has hope despite Mah not defending presidency
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