In the run-up to the state party convention and election - which took place on Nov 1 - the various candidates went to town on issues pertaining to 1MDB and their former Pakatan Rakyat ally PAS, hoping that their outspokenness would help them win the support of the delegates.
For them, a convincing victory was a sure-fire way to secure a key post in the state party leadership, as well as at state government agencies and corporations. Getting a ticket to contest in the next general election will be an added bonus.
Capitalise on current issues
Political analyst Associate Prof Mohd Izani Mohd Zain observed that in the run-up to any party elections, it was usual for the candidates to capitalise on current issues in order to gather momentum for their support base.
“They become more vocal on current issues and engage in polemics... all this is aimed at getting the attention and support of the grassroots,” the lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Department of Government and Civilisation Studies told Bernama.
All of them want to be seen as hard-core party stalwarts who place party interests above their own, he said, adding that those who met the expectations of the party were more likely to get the delegates’ vote.
“However, all political parties require leaders who can deliver the goods and certainly not those who are only good at issuing statements to boost their public image,” he said.
Another analyst, Dr Amini Amir Abdullah, who is a lecturer at UPM’s Faculty of Human Ecology, said it was obvious to him that Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua’s challenge to 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy for a live debate on the state-owned firm was merely a ploy to gain political mileage and reinforce his leadership position in Selangor DAP.
(Pua eventually withdrew from the debate after Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia said he would not allow the debate to proceed as Pua was a member of the Public Accounts Committee, which was currently probing into 1MDB.
On Thursday, Pakatan Harapan announced that PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli would replace Pua in the proposed debate.)
At the Selangor DAP election, Pua received 495 votes to come in eighth in the contest for the 15 posts in the central committee. Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo received the highest number of votes at 736.
Despite Pua’s dismal performance, he was reappointed Selangor DAP chairperson while Gobind Singh remained as deputy chairperson.
Safeguard their position
The run-up to the Selangor DAP election also saw state party leaders training their guns on their new ‘enemy’, namely PAS. While many brayed for the removal of PAS representatives from the state executive council line-up, others proposed that the DAP field its own candidates in the eight state seats, currently held by PAS in Selangor, at the next polls.
In fact, last week Pua had reportedly said that his party was preparing to place its candidates in the state seats of Taman Templer, Lembah Jaya, Paya Jaras, Sri Serdang, Meru, Chempaka, Dusun Tua and Tanjung Sepat.
Commenting on this, Amini Amir said they had to make “all that noise” as that was the only way for them to make their presence felt and be rewarded with a key post in the state party leadership.
“They are saying all those things because they (state DAP leaders) want to strengthen their position and they are willing to fight tooth and nail to retain their power,” he said, in an obvious reference to Pua.
“Since they are all well aware of the benefits of wielding power at state-level, they have to look for ways to be popular among the party members and remain in power.
“To me, it’s obvious that most of them are not sincere about the issues that they raise as their main aim is to gain political mileage and win party elections,” he added.
PAS turned into campaign fodder
Why did the Selangor DAP leaders use PAS as fodder when they went around canvassing for votes prior to the state election?
To this, Mohd Izani said DAP has now become so arrogant that it had forgotten the contributions made by PAS.
“They want PAS to become irrelevant in Malaysian politics. However, DAP cannot erase the fact that it had cooperated with PAS in the past. In fact, throughout their cooperation, PAS had created many openings for DAP,” he pointed out.
Amini, meanwhile, felt that the two parties would never be able to cooperate successfully as their principles and fundamental values differed. He also believed that PAS would remain DAP’s favourite punching bag.
“I think DAP is viewing PAS supporters as a threat because they won’t vote for DAP in the coming general election. That’s why during the recent (Selangor DAP) election, the DAP leaders harped on PAS,” he said.