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Press Statement By Lim Guan Eng In Penang On 11.2.2008: 

The New Penang Chief Minister Is Decided Not By Gerakan But By UMNO, Marking The Battle In Penang As Between Perpetuating UMNO’s Political Dominance Or Reducing UMNO’s Political Dominance To Ensure Democracy’s Survival 

Gerakan Acting Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s hand was clearly forced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after Abdullah had said he would decide for the Penang Chief Minister if the latter was unable to make up his mind whether to contest a state seat or go for a parliament seat. A few hours later Koh Tsu Koon had no choice but to announce early that he was going for a federal seat and give up his Chief Minister’s post. 

What is disappointing not only to Penang voters but also Gerakan is that Koh Tsu Koon was unable to decide on his successor but had to let the Prime Minister decide on  three names proposed by Koh. Clearly it is UMNO, not Gerakan or Penang voters who decide who is going to be our next Penang Chief Minister. 

By right, Gerakan should have the sole prerogative to decide by submitting one name for endorsement by the Prime Minister. If three names are to be proposed, it should be submitted to the Gerakan Central Executive Committee(CEC) for approval and not to UMNO. By ceding the right to UMNO and the Prime Minister to decide which of the three names would be the new Penang Chief Minister, the next Penang Chief Minister is clearly the chosen one by UMNO. 

UMNO’s decision on the next Penang Chief Minister only highlights UMNO’s unhealthy political dominance. Clearly the next general elections in Penang will be a tough battle for the DAP as DAP will be battling not only MCA or Gerakan, but the colossus that is UMNO. A vote for MCA or Gerakan or MIC is equal to a vote for UMNO. 

Penang voters must ask whether it is acceptable that the Penang Chief Minister be decided by UMNO instead of Gerakan. That the new Penang Chief Minister is decided not by Gerakan but by UMNO, marks the battle in Penang as on the one hand between perpetuating UMNO’s political dominance by supporting its allies in MCA and Gerakan or reducing UMNO’s political dominance to ensure democracy’s survival.  

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The challenge for Penang voters is whether they can rise up to challenge UMNO’s divisive and discriminatory policies and let UMNO know that it is the voters of Penang that finally decide their leaders.

* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General


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