Perak DAP discontent could be contagious, observers caution party

Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming speaks to reporters during an event at SJK (C) Ave Maria in Ipoh September 12, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming speaks to reporters during an event at SJK (C) Ave Maria in Ipoh September 12, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Sept 16 — Nga Kor Ming’s ambiguous defence of a DAP lawmaker whom colleagues believe is the target of a conspiracy could jeopardise the former’s once-ironclad control of the state chapter, political observers said.

Nga and his cousin, Datuk Ngeh Khoo Ham, have held the reins of Perak DAP for over a decade but recent acts of revolt suggest that brewing discontent with the party’s state leadership may be coming to a boil.

Nga courted controversy by telling the media that Paul Yong’s position as a state exco would be discussed by the central DAP leadership, prompting two of its Perak assemblymen to resign from their party positions in the state in protest.

Political analyst from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Teh Boon Teck said the open challenge against Nga by the two who had been thought to be members of his camp indicated a deeper undercurrent of unhappiness within the state chapter.

“The way Nga dealt with Yong is the straw that broke the camel’s back, causing those who used to support him in the party to no longer want to tolerate with him,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Yong was charged last month with raping his former Indonesian employee and initially refused to take a leave of absence, insisting the allegation was part of a political conspiracy.

He eventually relented after conferring with Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu who assured him his position was not at risk, and gained the support of DAP colleagues who backed his claim of a conspiracy.

Malim Nawar assemblyman Leong Cheok Keng (left) and Pokok Asam assemblyman Leow Thye Yih speak to reporters during a press conference in Ipoh September 11, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Malim Nawar assemblyman Leong Cheok Keng (left) and Pokok Asam assemblyman Leow Thye Yih speak to reporters during a press conference in Ipoh September 11, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Nga triggered the minor rebellion by saying DAP would discuss Yong’s future, which Pokok Assam assemblyman Leow Thye Hin and Malim Nawar counterpart, Leong Cheok Keng, insist contradicted both Nga and the Perak MB’s previous remarks to the contrary.

The two quit their state positions and went on to escalate their campaign against Nga, telling him to resign as he has ostensibly lost the support of the state DAP chapter.

Teoh warned that if left to fester, Perak DAP’s discontent could infect the rest of the party.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Professor Sivamurugan Pandian said both sides in the Perak DAP standoff should allow Yong’s case to be decided in court before reacting, saying that the open bickering would harm both the state and federal administrations.

He also suggested that the national DAP leadership intervene before the row escalates.

However, sources within Perak DAP asserted to Malay Mail that their unhappiness with Nga was not solely because of his equivocal defence of Yong, but can be traced back to events immediately after the 14th general election.

Perak state executive councillor Paul Yong walks to the Sessions Court in Ipoh where he is expected to be charged with rape on August 23, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Perak state executive councillor Paul Yong walks to the Sessions Court in Ipoh where he is expected to be charged with rape on August 23, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

They said sections of the state chapter were upset that Nga was made the chairman of Perak DAP despite not having won the most votes in the party’s internal polls. He only came fifth out of 15 contenders.

“The dissatisfaction with Nga’s leadership existed long ago, but many did not voice out for fear of repercussions.

“However, Nga’s decision on Yong’s case is the final blow in this matter. Yong certainly has his own supporters and they used this issue to voice their discontentment,” one source said.

They pointed out that Wong May Ing secured the most votes while Abdul Aziz Bari was second, yet Nga was made Perak DAP chief due to his seniority.

They further alleged that Wong Kah Woh, the last of the 15 candidates, was made Perak state secretary simply because he is close to Nga.

“This is what causes a divide in the party,” one source said. 

Despite the possible contagion, the central DAP leadership has been reluctant to intervene.

When asked about the brewing crisis in Perak, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said only that the matter would be resolved internally by the state chapter.

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