Posted: 07 Nov 2013 10:57 AM PST
I have received several emails in response to my article "DAP's internal strife big slap on Lim's face" published in this column last week.
I'm always happy to receive reactions to what I've written even if they come in the form of rebuttal, disagreement or criticism. Columnists must be able to appreciate that they have a forum to write and share their views and thoughts on issues close to their heart. Many others do not have such an opportunity. However, many news portals, theantdaily included, have now introduced the Comment Section to give readers a similar platform. This is a move in the right direction as public participation in issues brought up by the media should be encouraged.
Allow me to share one interesting email which I received in response to the DAP article and to react accordingly afterwards. It reads:
"Dear Francis Paul Siah, thank you for sharing the article about "DAP's internal strife big slap on Lim's face".
"May I suggest that you do a research and write an article about the award of the Penang datukship by CM Lim Guan Eng. From 2008 to 2013 how many datukships have been awarded to developers and businessmen? Why the high number of developers and businessmen get the datukship?
"Penang CM is so ungrateful to the long-time DAP members in Penang. The DAP state leaders said there is NO policy to award datukship to DAP members.
DAP's old-timers had worked so hard for the party but when the party rules Penang, all the benefits and rewards are given to outsiders. Are all the Penang DAP members of so 'low quality' that they are not worthy to receive anything? Only outsiders such as developers deserve the state awards!
"As what you have mentioned, veteran DAP members who have been supporting the party for the past 20 or 30 years have been ignored and sidelined such as Zulkifli and many others whereas a newcomer like Zairil, the blue-eyed boy of the CM, was given the opportunity to stand in Bukit Bendera seat!
"A leader who does not know how to take care of his party members is an ungrateful one who will fall sooner than later'.
The writer signed off as "Penang DAP member for past 30 years".
Let me respond by saying that the grouses against Lim from DAP members, the Penang veterans in particular, are quite legitimate.
I would describe it as a very "human" issue. It's only human for an employee to expect some rewards after he had toiled for the company for donkey years. The same goes for members of political parties.
But we have to understand that as chief minister, Lim is also in a very difficult position. Should he give priority to his party members when awarding state contracts, for example? That will smack of the same cronyism perpetuated by Umno which DAP had criticised.
So far, Penang's "open tender" system has worked well. It has been perceived as fair and transparent. There is nothing to stop DAP members and supporters who are also businessmen and developers from competing with outsiders for state projects. Surely, it's wrong to expect favours from the chief minister who is also their party's secretary-general.
I'm glad that the writer has brought up the issue of the datukship award. It's an interesting subject worth a discourse.
DAP has my greatest respect for introducing its "no datukship" policy for leaders and members of the party. That should dispel whatever doubt there is about DAP people being crazy about social status and seeking personal glorification in politics.
However, it was unfortunate that precedents had been set in the cases of Perak's Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and Selangor's Datuk Teng Chang Khim. Those of us who are in the know could only chuckle at their rather lame excuses of being unable to turn down the palace's offer to confer them the datukship.
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