Back to the grassroots, Gerakan !

This is my latest writeup in my column in Malaysian Insider. The link is here.

Back to the grassroots, Gerakan!

SEPT 18 – When Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was appointed as de facto Law Minister tasked with reforming the judiciary, expectations were high that, at long last, the government was initiating reforms to one of the most important, as well as most compromised, institutions – the judiciary. Even the Prime Minister had publicly agreed to the setting-up of a Judicial Appointments Commission.

Now, six months later, Zaid has tendered his resignation unhappy over his inability to push through judicial reforms because of strong opposition from his fellow Umno ministers. While we do not know for certain why these ministers are dead against reforming the judiciary, we can venture a guess that perhaps self and party interest were being placed above national and public interests.
Zaid’s resignation is the first instance of a minister quitting over a point of principle and this should be lauded by all Malaysians. His resignation, coming so soon after the latest use of the ISA, gives those in the BN component parties plenty of food for thought.

If an Umno minister holding a senior cabinet position cannot even succeed in influencing his fellow party members to reform the judiciary, who else can?

After March 8, there were voices from the Gerakan grassroots asking the leaders to consider pulling the party out of BN. The leadership refused, saying Gerakan would push Umno to reform from within BN. This has become one of their strongest arguments for remaining in the race-based coalition.

Zaid’s case clearly shows that if an Umno Minister cannot push through law reforms, how do component parties, such as MCA or Gerakan, expect to push for change in BN?

The Ahmad Ismail case has shown that, despite the BN supreme council asking Umno to discipline its own recalcitrant member, the three-year suspension was just a slap on the wrist. And for that slap on the wrist, the whole nation paid an even heavier price of having three of its citizens arrested under the ISA, one an innocent reporter who was only doing her job.

This episode clearly shows that when the heads of component parties say that they can push Umno to change, they are either trying to hoodwink their members or are in self denial mode.

It is clear from these two cases that reforming Umno will be an almost impossible task. Bearing in mind that ex-Gerakan president Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik recently said that the party is like a beggar inside the coalition, and that an ex-MCA vice president said MCA is like a slave, it is clear that the master is not going to listen to the slave or the beggar no matter how much they slog or beg.

So why are they still staying on? Is it for ideological reasons? For MCA, being a race-based party, staying in a race-based coalition would not be too much of a clash with their ideology. But for Gerakan, how are the leaders going to reconcile their own calls to the members to go back to promoting a “non-racial, fair and equitable society” by remaining in BN? It is rather hypocritical to sing one tune while dancing to another.

MCA faces a hot battle in the coming party elections, with all positions likely to be contested. However, most of the top positions will be contested by familiar faces, and, therefore, we can conclude that any change will most likely be cosmetic. It is just like old wine in a new bottle. It is still the same old vintage and no drastic change can be expected.

As for Gerakan, many reports, including a recent one by Merdeka Review (a Chinese website), stated that 80 per cent of its members wanted the leadership to take the party out. Why are the party leaders not heeding the calls of the grassroots? This stubborn refusal to acknowledge the majority wish can only fan speculation which will do a lot of harm to the party leadership.

Keng Yaik, now the Gerakan advisor, stated in an interview with “Off the Edge” that if a referendum is carried out now, most members would opt to vote for the party pulling out of BN.  His assessment is in line with that of most political analysts and party insiders. 

Nevertheless, Gerakan acting president Dr Koh Tsu Koon differed in opinion, saying those who wanted the party out were only a small minority.

Since there is a difference in opinion of the past and present presidents, many members think that a referendum to decide the direction of the party would be in order in the coming National Delegates’ Conference.

So far, Gerakan leaders have not decided on calling for a referendum, which they think unsuitable at the moment because the delegates may be too emotional. This sort of thinking will not go down well with the grassroots, who are matured enough to know what is good and bad, not only for the party, but, more importantly, for the people and the country.

Many of them are already talking about an indirect way of getting the message across if a referendum is not allowed. One indirect way is, of course, to have someone contest against the top leader and, if that someone manages to get a sizeable percentage of votes, it would be a very strong signal that most members want Gerakan out of BN.

In a democratic world, history has shown that the more the leaders try to resist change, the greater would be the resulting tectonic shift.

The Gerakan leadership, in trying to resist change, may inadvertently fall into the danger of becoming a party reduced to having too many generals and very few foot soldiers.


26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sing lau
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 16:23:41

    Dr Hsu,

    “Zaid’s case clearly shows that if an Umno Minister cannot push through law reforms, how do component parties, such as MCA or Gerakan, expect to push for change in BN?”

    This is an astute observation, and a damning indictment upon the deluded leaders of the component parties like the Mati Cina Apek and Gorekan! (Gorek UMNO’s ball)

    When would these running dogs ever wake up from the delusion and stupor! Whatever has bewitched these leaders… such that they cannot see the slavish subordination to the racist UMNO master?

    penang lad


  2. Ah Tok
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 16:36:45

    Many ordinary people out there do not understand the real political world especially in Malaysia. A party cannot simply make harsh decision emotionally or just because others say so. One must take into consideration of the years being together and the survival implication if party like Gerakan is to leave BN. There are many people just know how to shout but no positive action taken, LPPL.
    By the way Hsu, you seem to be very quiet being a Gerakan member as I dont see anything of such in your blogs. Malu ke?


  3. Abdullah
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 16:41:57

    Ah Tok

    Are you an Amnoputra masquarading as a Gerekan boy? Hehehe! Dr Hsu is one of the consciences of Gerekan and you can’t have Gerekan being trampled upon and wiped out simply bcoz of AMNO. PRGM has an ideology and it must be kept alive. It is easier to raise the dead than reforming AMNO. Mark my words.


  4. A true Malaysian
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 16:44:27

    Dr. Hsu,

    If you cannot convince your leaders, your position is just like Zaid Ibrahim. The only conscience member left in Gerakan (or maybe more than one).

    Then, one day, I will see you having a press conference and announce ” I failed to convince them, I hereby resign as member and all positions in Gerakan”.


  5. CYC
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 16:48:21

    A True Malaysian

    I can see that happen very soon.


  6. A true Malaysian
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 17:08:24


    Let see what happen next.

    It seems that there is no such ‘conscience’ member of Zaid Ibrahim and Dr. Hsu caliber in MCA. I could be wrong, if there is any, but so far, I didn’t come across any.

    The one near to qualify as Mr. Conscience in MCA is Ong Tee Keat. But he is contesting in the coming election.

    The question is, what direction Mr. Ong is going to take if he is elected president of MCA? Maybe our friend, monk knows better.

    (I am not here to campaign for Ong Tee Keat. It is only my prediction that Mr. Ong will be elected as president. Apparently, Umno doesn’t like him)


  7. klm
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 17:17:32

    Well reasoned article.

    Can we expect to see fireworks in Gerakan next general meeting?


  8. Bert
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 18:08:37

    Dr Hsu,

    Good analysis of the dire situation Gerakan is in. There is only one solution and that is to leave BN. Datuk Said’s press conference has exposed all the hypocrisy in BN that claims to be multiracial whilst all the time working for their own enrichment and against minority rights. The so called harmony that we fraudulently foist upon Malaysians and foreigners alike is but a charade. All this has been exposed by the GE of 08.03 when people rejected the racist and corrupted BN en mass.
    You have rightly pointed out that Datuk Said, even being an UMNO minister, is unable to change the mindset of entrenched bureaucracy so Gerakan’s claim to work within the BN to effect change can only have but a “snowball’s chance in hell” to succeed. Gerakan must leave the BN as remaining in BN will only legitimise BN’s fraudulent claims to be a multiracial party while practising a racist Malay supremacist agenda.
    Leave BN and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Gerakan will once again flourish. Staying in the BN will invite total rejection from the populace and hasten the demise of a once proud party. Let not the original principles of Gerakan be
    sabotaged by self serving officials.

    It’s better to be a little bird free in the forest than an eagle in a gilded cage in a palace.

    Wishing you every success in your endeavours.


  9. petestop
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 18:22:47

    Well, there is only one thing for Gerakan members to do.

    It is to vote Koh Tsu Koon out of Gerakan.

    If the leader does not heed the members, it is time for the members to change the leaders.

    Doc Hsu should not quit Gerakan, he has a lot of duty to do to gather up the grassroots to take back the party… back to its original founding ideology…

    Don’t let the party be hi-jacked by leaders who over the years gain political baggages due to their constant compromises over the years.

    It is for this reason and this reason alone why Gerakan got trounced in their home state.

    We want back Gerakan of its founding era, not Gerakan as UMNO’s lapdog.

    Koh Tsu Koon, please do the right thing, otherwise your days in Gerakan are numbered.


  10. A true Malaysian
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 18:28:07


    I also wish Dr. Hsu succeed in his efforts.


  11. cilipadi
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 18:44:15

    Dr. Hsu,

    Talking about referandum, maybe you should have it in your blog, specifying ‘only Gerakan members’ can vote. At the same time, appeal to members to vote once while non-members do not vote so to reflect the genuinity of such referandum.

    I, as non-member, will give my word that I won’t disrupt the referandum. I trust others will give you the full co-operation as well.


  12. humbleforest
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 18:57:26

    In every country the constitutions of any political parties are fair, clean and ethical. They are not dirty. They are like pure rain water, but when it mixes with dirty water it becomes dirty.
    So when laws are made, they are just and fair to everyone for protection and not for threatening.
    There are courts made for having a fair trial.
    A dictator country has no fair-trial court, but having a court of biasness.

    Those whose mind and heart are selfish, corrupt, egoistic and impure will distort or twist the rules of the laws, thus misusing and abusing of it. This type of situation creates a bad image of politics. By right true politics help a nation to look after her innocent citizens in economics, welfare and developments, instead they are mishandled by the poor errant, greedy and irresponsible group of leaders. Time is the witness to all these same happenings in history. It has no pity.

    Citizens of the world, when you are voting for your good leaders make sure to have the ears and eyes sparkling sharp. Do not simply listen to rumours or gossips and vote blindly.
    If we find that the management of the country is out of balance, then we have to blame ourselves and vote out the bad government in the next general election.
    If the component party is not co-operative or is bias, then make a right decision to quit.
    If the condition is fair and just to every party, then help it out to be more productive.


  13. EvanAlmighty
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 19:23:53

    I think Gerakan have the same problem as UMNO which they do not have strong leaders. I really miss the calibre leader like Lim Chong Eu. The strong leader should have vision & guts to transform their party. So far, I only see Gerakan leaders shouting for revolution but no concrete steps taken to strengthen their party. What a loser……………..


  14. Kenny Gan
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 19:36:37

    Dr Hsu,

    You could study ways to force the Gerakan leadership to hold a referendum on whether to remain in BN. The leaders will avoid a referendum as mush as possible as they know what the outcome will be.

    There must be something in Gerakan’s constitution where the grassroots with sufficient quorum can take action like calling an Extraordinary General Meeting or a vote of no-confidence.

    Perhaps you could get Neil Khor and Khoo Khay Peng to assist as they know Gerakan’s workings inside and out.

    Blogging your views is good, Dr. Hsu but when you have a sufficient consensus, it is time to for action.


  15. Dr Hsu
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 19:40:18

    kenny, yes, we have the constitution, and we are studying all aspects.

    Thanks for the advice. 🙂


  16. cilyhot
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 19:49:32

    cilyhot said…
    Monsterball,Karma is…..Ten years ago one old goat frame his deputy and sent him into jail because this once time godson do not listen to him anymore!!………….ten years after,,,,today,,,,,,,,,this now older granny goat declare that he had to immigrate to Zimbabwe IF his former deputy become the PM !!!!!He had to cabut,,,,,,,,like people say,,,even got no shoes also must take the slippers to go!!!!!!This is karma!!!!

    September 17, 2008 6:52 PM

    cilyhot said…
    Justin,Dr Hsu,Monsterball,on Sept.the 10th,I make a yin and yang comparison between two good friends of different styles on Justins’ Black and White.Honestly and honestly at that MOMENTS I do not know the war of words happening in Dr Hsu’s blog.I only visited Dr Hsu blog for the first time on the 8th and now got addicted to it!!When I visit a new blog ,I seldom see the comments on it.When I realised what is happening in Dr Hsu’ blog, I am dumbfounded.What a coincidence!!!After what I have written,Monsterball responded but I didn’t.(learned this from JUstin)I do not wish to have any banter with anyone!!!Dr Hsu,don’t be too harsh on Monsterball lah.I am not siding anybody but I pity him being attacked by so MANY guys .Let him one horse .ok!!And one last thing,I am not connected with any cilis around.

    September 18, 2008 7:26 PM

    Taijitu, the traditional symbol representing the forces of yin (dark) and yang (light).

    The universal principle of Yin-yang is very succinctly elucidated in Wikipedia:”In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (simplified Chinese: 阴阳; traditional Chinese: 陰陽; pinyin: yīnyáng) are generalized descriptions of the antitheses or mutual correlations in human perceptions of phenomena in the natural world, combining to create a unity of opposites in the theory of the Taiji.”


    The Buddha expounded the doctrine of “The Eight Worldly Vicissitudes Of Life”.

    According to the Buddha, we will experience these vicissitudes throughout our lives, no matter what our intentions or actions are:

    Gain and loss
    Praise and blame
    Pleasure and pain
    Fame and obscurity

    The harmony of the opposites is the stabilizing force of the universe. Day and night, cold and heat, formation and destruction, birth and death!

    The harmony of the opposites is the equilibrium of our existence where we can discern the right from the wrong, the good from the evil; in the journey of life to make us wiser if we can overcome greed, hatred and delusion.

    In this Bolehland Malaysia we have our version of “Yin-Yang Flip-Flop Double-Talk Gobbledegook”.

    This version is the elixir to cure desparado politicians on a tail-spin! All they need to do to prolong their tail-spin is to chant the gibberish nonsense. I won’t waste time repeating their circus acts. You can read them everywhere in any medium.

    Now presenting the “Mother” of all time “Yin-yang Top-spinning” Malaysia Boleh:

    (Picture from The Star)

    Abdullah:”This is Anwar’s mirage, he sees something but it is nothing, there is nothing there, it is only a dream.”

    Anwar:”This is not empty talk … but we have chosen to be patient and use the conciliatory way.”

    May all insane become sane; and may all sane stay sane!!

    posted by Justin Choo at 10:49 AM on Sep 17, 2008

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  17. Bert
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 20:29:00

    A True Malaysian,

    Yes, we all wish him success. It’s not often we come across a principled politician. So even though we are not Gerakan members and we cannot do anything to influence the outcome, at least we can voice our support and encouragement and pray that the righteous will triumph.
    I noticed that you are a strong supporter and I do wish you well….

    Best Regds


  18. A true Malaysian
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 21:21:15


    Thanks for your nice words. I am a believer in principled politician.

    I aspire to see there are more such politicians in both BN and PR whereby they :-

    a) support each other good points

    b) argue and debate on facts instead of ‘perceptions’

    c) are color blind

    d) do things with clear conscience, transparent and responsible

    e) admit wrongful acts or mistakes with grace, rather than find excuses or blames to cover his or her weakness

    I can see these qualities in Dr. Hsu.

    Sometime I wonder, are such qualities so hard to emulate by our politicians? Don’t they have the view that they also want their children to have such qualities?

    Well, these things are easy to talk about but when come to do these, is another question altogether. But, I believe, each of us should start somewhere, ie ourselves.

    Just remember, we come to this world with nothing, and we goes with nothing. Legacy and wisdom are what we will leave behind.


  19. abs
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 22:23:04

    dr hsu

    enough of posting on this subject.

    lets wait for the forthcoming election. if spineless KTK and his coterie decide to stay, then its the members call.

    best wishes, dr hsu.


  20. Gary Yeoh
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 01:04:19

    Dr Hsu

    I have been attracted to you blog because of your content. However, your association with Gerakan given the history is puzzling.

    As a doctor, I guess you know that when certain malignant cancer has established itself, good cells have to go. If only to allow the body to have a fighting chance of recovery. By that, I mean whatever good that may still be in Gerakan has to be sacrificed.

    Hence, it’s time to close the chapter on Gerakan. If you must, make a new start with others in BN to create something afresh. Otherwise, stay independent until a party proves worthy of support.

    Incidentally, why have you not blog about the petition to free ISA detainees?

    Hope you don’t mind my posting the petition, as its for her, RPK and other political detainees.

    BTW, I am not a supporter of Teresa Kok. However, I respect her efforts to serve her constituency. Detaining her as an MP under ISA is unjust and against the principles of democracy.


  21. Rights for all
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 08:00:24

    Gerakan can’t even reform itself and still talking about reforming the taiko. Gerakan will lose big time the next round whether inside BN or outside BN. At least Gerakan will gain some self-respect outside BN…….but not with this bunch of hyprocites at the helm of Gerakan leadership hoping to salvage their own interests (pockets that is) and praying Umno will save the sinking ship.


  22. Justin Choo
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 10:09:53

    Dr Hsu,

    What is this from cilihot (7.49 Sept 18)? Pasting my entire posting here? Just to let you know that I have no hand in this.

    However, thanks Doc for allowing that comment to appear; and thanks cilihot for the comment.


  23. Dr Hsu
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 10:55:25

    Gary Yeoh, thanks for putting up the petition for Terasa. But while you try to free teresa, we should not forget to free RPK, Hindraff people and all others jailed under the ISA.


  24. Anak Malaysia
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 11:02:35


    justice for ALL…


  25. Anak Malaysia
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 11:21:54


    It’s good if GERAKAN have the moral conscience to return to it’s roots, that’s if, only if they still remember about them…

    To believe in one thing, but ends up doing the opposite thing is very much hypocritical…

    Enough said…


  26. Trackback: More questions to consider, Gerakan leaders ! « Dr Hsu’s Forum

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