TELUK INTAN, June 1 — Datuk Mah Siew Keong's victory in the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election yesterday not only strengthened his position as the Gerakan president but also strengthened the position of the party which was considered as a “sunset party.”
Mah said the victory proved that Gerakan was not a sunset party as had been claimed, but a party that would continue to grow with the support of all races.
“The Teluk Intan Parliamentary By-election victory was very important for the party and Barisan Nasional (BN). Many people said Gerakan was on the way down.
“If (I had) lost, I think Gerakan will have a problem as we need to change or get a new leader to revamp the party,” he said when met by reporters after meeting with the voters at the Pasar Besar, here to thank them for electing him as the Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan after failing twice to regain the seat since the 2008 general election.
Mah said: “It was fortunate we won and I will continue for a while and will look for second liner leaders who will be ready to take over.”
Mah was elected as the new president of Gerakan in the party election on Oct 26, 2013, after beating his rival, Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Teng Chang Yeow when he polled 1,086 votes compared with 577 votes received by Teng.
He succeeds Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon who resigned as Gerakan president effective May 16, 2013 as he felt responsible for the party's major defeat in the 13th general election.
In the 2013 general election, Gerakan only won one Parliamentary seat, namely Simpang Renggam (Johor), and three State Assembly seats - Sidam, Kedah; Pemanis, Johor; and Tanjong Papat, Sabah out of the 11 parliamentary and 31 state assembly seats it contested.
Previously, in the 2008 general election, Gerakan had won two parliamentary seats and four state seats, and the Penang state government which had been led by the party for 39 years previously, fell to the DAP.
Mah said he would continue to work hard to strengthen the Gerakan as he had promised when he won the party presidency last year so that the party's young leaders could take the party to a more encouraging position.
Mah, who had been involved in politics for more than two decades, conceded that his contest in the Teluk Intan by-election as the Gerakan president was a major challenge and burden.
In the Teluk Intan by-election yesterday, Mah defeated DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud with a slim majority of 238, after polling 20,157 votes compared with 19,919 votes received by Dyana Sofya.
Referring to the results yesterday, he said the party received good support from the Changkat Jong state constituency.
“We have not seen the details but on the surface, we won big in Changkat Jong but reduced support in (DUN) Pasir Bedamar. The support from three communities had shown improvement,” he said. — Bernama