DAP top leaders admit party polls gaffe an ‘embarrassment’

By Debra Chong
Assistant News Editor

January 05, 2013

Party leaders attend the 16th DAP National Congress in December. — file picParty leaders attend the 16th DAP National Congress in December. — file picKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — DAP’s top leaders described today their party election blunder as an “embarrassment” and sought to save face by pointing out their mistake was due to a computer-generated error and not a move to rig poll results as alleged by political foes.

Both party chairman Karpal Singh and advisor, Lim Kit Siang, sought to put a positive spin on the matter by saying their willingness to publicly admit their error was a strength and not a weakness proving they could be counted on by Malaysians to be accountable for their actions.

“We expect to receive criticism from various parties but announcing the mistake is to show that we are being transparent,” Karpal told a news conference in George Town.

Lim echoed the Bukit Gelugor MP’s view, saying despite knowing the political drubbing they were likely to get over the mess “no leader had suggested a cover-up of the blunder and the leadership is united that we should tell the truth to the party and the public and face the negative reactions frontally”.

“Our political antagonists may see this as a weakness for them to try to exploit and divide the party, but this is in fact a strength where the DAP leadership is prepared to own up to and rectify its mistakes however embarrassing they might be because we believe in humility and ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’,” the Ipoh-Timor MP said in a statement.

Their political opponents from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) went all out on social networks and party-controlled media scorning the Chinese-dominated DAP over the way it handled its December party polls that saw Malays shut out of the opposition party’s powerful central executive committee (CEC) despite its push to be more racially-inclusive.

The DAP polls flub made the front pages of newspapers nationwide today.

BN deputy chairman, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, was reported by state news agency Bernama as holding party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng accountable for the “odd and extraordinary” blunder.

“Even though the matter may be small, the implication was huge as many people could dispute its integrity, legitimacy and transparency which DAP fought for, and Guan Eng should answer and clarify,” Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister, was quoted as saying by Bernama in Tanjung Malim, Perak today.

The Chinese-dominated DAP had been attacked by former vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim who said that Malays had no place in the party.

Newcomer Zairil Khir Johari, 30, was appointed to the CEC as assistant national publicity secretary, after failing to be elected the first time around — a move described by the party’s critics and political foes as a damage-control exercise.

The political secretary to Guan Eng, who is also Penang chief minister, said on Thursday the recount validated his belief in the DAP as a party that stood for transparency and trust in the younger generation.

The CEC now has two Malay representatives, the other being Senator Dr Ariffin SM Omar who was appointed as party vice-chairman.