Monday, April 29, 2013
Two of the most prominent DAP politicians in Perak happen to be cousins.
Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming, both lawyers, are often accused by their opponents — and very often party insiders — of running “the state chapter of their party like their own little fiefdom.”
According to Singapore’s The Sunday Times, the two have a sizeable grassroots support and have “risen in prominence of late now that DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang has left his Ipoh Timur stronghold for Johor is a high-stakes game to win federal power.”
But the two were far from low key even before this. When Pakatan Rakyat took control of the state assembly after the 2008 election, Ngeh (picture) should have been made the mentri besar but the post had to go to a Malay Muslim and so it went to PAS’s Datuk Mohammad Nizar Jamauddin.
Ngeh is the party’s Perak chairman while his cousin Nga is the secretary. In 2008, DAP won 18 of the 31 state seats “that went to the opposition.”
“The opposition lost Perak in 2009 following the defection of three PR assemblymen,” reported The Sunday Times.
In the run-up to nomination day on April 20, there was a lot of jostling — all in the public eye — for seats and allegations that the cousins were making all sorts of power-grabbing moves.
This “fed the perception of disunity within opposition ranks.”
After a recent rally, Ngeh spoke to The Sunday Times:
“First, they try to find fault by seeing whether there is any scandal,” he is reported to have said. “If they cannot find any scandal, maybe there is corruption, or anything that is against the law.
“Or they see if you are lazy, or if you are incapable. When they cannot find fault with you, they create jealousy by saying you are powerful.”
He stressed that no one has ever accused them of being ineffective or lazy.
Still, they are dogged by controversy. The Sunday Times report notes that the pair “have been blamed for the departure of parliamentarian Fong Po Kuan, one of the DAP’s brightest young talents when she burst onto the scene in 1999 but quit politics this year.”
There have also been accusations they used “their choice of election candidates to sideline their opponents within the party.”
Going further back, former DAP state assemblyman Hee Yit Foong, whose defection helped trigger the collapse of the opposition-run state government in 2009, has pinned the blame on the cousins’ behaviour.
Ngeh called all these accusations the result of their having to make “tough decisions on behalf of the party.”
He gave a reminder that he and his cousin are voted in by a regular popular vote and that they can be rejected anytime.
He told the Singapore paper that “any word we utter could only aggravate the situation, so we’d rather become victims of unfair criticism than injure a fellow comrade.”
Although he said he “bears no grudges” against Fong, who had also indicated in 2008 she wanted to quit but was persuaded to stay, Ngeh hinted that “if we had to go and tell why she resigned, it won’t be very pleasant.”
Another DAP member who has had public spats with Ngeh is senior Perak DAP leader M. Kulasegaran. Ngeh said: “There will be differences in any political party… But for internal party matters, we will resolve it internally.”
For all the accusations, Ngeh is confident that he will do well on May 5 when the country goes to the polls. He is standing in Sitiawan where he is the incumbent state assemblyman as well as parliamentarian.
In 2004 he garnered twice as many votes as his MCA opponent and in 2008, improved on that by getting three times more votes than his rival candidate.