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Thursday, July 21, 2016

DAP should not tie a state-wide election to the fate of one single individual

After Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng was prosecuted on two counts of corruption charges, there have been rumors snap polls would be held in the state to allow the people to decide whether the accusations against him have been politically motivated.

Such a political maneuver while not really surprising might not be warranted.

As a constituent of the Pakatan Harapan opposition pact, DAP must first secure the consent of his allies before a snap election can be called.

Following the decision by PKR's political bureau not to agree to a snap election, DAP has subsequently said it would continue to consult its allies whether the state assembly should be dissolved.

The proposed snap polls have been downplayed by opponents as a political gimmick as they feel that the state DAP should not tie a state-wide election to the fate of one single individual.

From the reactions of Penangites on the prosecution of CM Lim, we can deduce that he indeed has a large following of sympathizers.

Nevertheless, not many think the same way because there are a host of other factors that will affect the election outcome, and while DAP has a good deal of confidence to win the mandate again this time, there are simply a lot of risks to be taken into consideration.

As the ruling party in Penang, DAP absolutely has the power to call for a snap election, but it has to first convince its Pakatan allies while letting the voters know the reasons to hold a snap election.

It must never take the voters' support for granted, or the idea may backfire if the public do not buy it.

Lim's prosecution is a legal issue while state election is a political one. Bundling law and politics together is not only disrespect for the country's judiciary, but is also contrary to the principles of democracy.

He should defend his innocence with powerful evidences instead of politicizing this matter. Even if he eventually wins the state election, he cannot escape court hearings.

Having clinched thumping victories in Sarawak and the twin by-elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar, it is widely anticipated that early general elections will be called, and Lim Guan Eng himself has also announced to defer party elections to concentrate on possible early general elections. Moreover, with the case slated for hearing in September, a snap election is hardly necessary.

If the snap polls return DAP in a landslide, then the motive has been achieved. What if the outcome is below expectations and will DAP accept with an open heart? What about LGE's destiny then?

Judging from the prevailing situation, DAP's support among the local Chinese will remain robust, but how about the rest of the electorate, in particular the Malays? How would they see his case or the legitimacy of the snap polls?

First and foremost, PKR must be able to convince the Malay voters. Most of PKR's seats are mixed constituencies where they will face powerful challenge from Umno. PKR still has some reservations about a snap election mainly due to the unclear directions of the Malay community.

PH should instead make use of the limited time now to address the many problems now encountered by the opposition camp and come together as a united front before the next general elections.

Translated by DOMINIC LOH Sin Chew Daily

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