Daggers out down in Johor: Chin Tong braces for duel, defies rivals

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Following the open criticism against his leadership, speculation is rife that a challenge will be mounted against incumbent Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong in the May 2 state party polls.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, the former deputy defence minister said he is prepared for the fight and called on his rivals to name their candidate.

He also urged them to reveal their plans and strategies for Johor DAP so that the opposing camps can hold a debate on the matter.

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“When someone wants to challenge us, we should face it […] come up with a concrete plan, and we can debate on it in a positive way,” he added.

Liew dismissed his detractor’s claim that he has not been focused on party affairs in Johor and argued that a clear plan and direction were more important.

The DAP polls are a two-round process. Delegates will first elect the state committee, which in turn elects the office bearers, including the state chief, from amongst its members.

Although there is no specific nomination process or election for the state chief position, Liew insisted that naming an alternative leader was pivotal.

“If they are aiming for my current position as the state chairperson, then they need to have an alternative candidate,” he said.

In the previous polls, Liew was challenged by a faction aligned to Skudai assemblyperson Tan Hong Pin. The Chinese press reported that the faction would launch another salvo in the upcoming contest.

On April 11, Pekan Nanas assemblyperson Yeo Tung Siong, who is said to be aligned to Tan, criticised Liew for not holding any meetings of the state committee when critical issues occurred, such as when the Pakatan Harapan government collapsed last year.

He also alleged the decision to reshuffle the Johor state executive council in 2019 was not brought before the state DAP exco.

In defending his leadership, Liew reiterated the importance of a leader to have a clear direction as opposed to being accepted by all quarters.

“When you want to challenge a leader, instead of raising something without rhyme and reason, you should propose a clear direction,” he said.

Pressed on Yeo’s claims, the Johor DAP chief refused to dwell on the matter and dismissed the allegations as baseless.

Responding to a question, Liew said the party’s decisions pertaining to all government appointments and election nominations originated from a five-member panel.

The five are secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, veteran leader Lim Kit Siang, national chairperson Tan Kok Wai, deputy chairperson Gobind Singh Deo and vice-chairperson M Kulasegaran.

With regard to the 2019 Johor state cabinet line-up, where Tan was dropped as exco, Liew said the five had taken three factors into consideration when making their decision.

“First, we must continue to be at the helm of the state. Secondly, we have to retain Johor DAP’s four state excos. Third, we have to retain all our portfolios, including the local government portfolio,” he said.

He further explained that at the time, DAP submitted two names – Tan Hon Ping and Tan Chen Choon – to newly-minted menteri besar Sahruddin Jamal, and he picked the latter.

The reshuffle of the Johor state executive council line-up took place when Sahruddin replaced Osman Sapian in April 2019.

Following this, Guan Eng had clarified that it was not DAP’s decision to drop Hong Pin as an exco.

A year later, the Harapan government in Johor, which DAP is a member, fell and was replaced by a Bersatu-Umno coalition. – Malaysiakini