KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 - By Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Malaysianinsider
Rivals for decades over the same Chinese voter base, Gerakan and MCA are now bickering again over the appointment of Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon as Barisan Nasional (BN) head in Penang.
MCA grassroots members in Penang are said to be up in arms over Koh’s appointment by BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
MCA has long eyed Penang since they lost the state in 1969 to Gerakan, then contesting in the opposition.
And after last year’s clean sweep by DAP in Penang, local MCA leaders had been hoping to take up a leadership position in the state’s BN machinery.
Koh has also been singled out for blame for BN’s losses in Penang, with many MCA leaders pointing to his poor performance and indecisive leadership as chief minister as major factors.
Animosity towards Koh however is not new.
When BN won Penang in the 1999 general elections, MCA dominated the state assembly following defections from Gerakan but instead of appointing a leader from MCA as the chief minister, then BN chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave the post to Koh causing widespread discontent among the party’s leaders and supporters.
And the fact that Najib has once again made Koh the BN head there has sparked fresh accusations that the Umno president is not sensitive towards the sentiment on the ground.
A Bernama report today quoted the Penang MCA chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai as admitting there was discontent in his party over Koh’s appointment.
Liow said, however, that he would have to respect Najib’s decision.
“If we want to win the state in future, he should not use the normal approach. He should actually cultivate and train more younger leaders to handle the issues in Penang,” he said.
“Gerakan alone cannot win Penang. It must have the support of the MCA and Umno to win back the state,” added Liow.