A Legacy of Gentlemen Politics

It has been quite some time since Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon appeared and speak in the public. And there he was last week at the Meng Eng Soo open day, speaking in front of a large crowd. There was a sense of astonishment when he was there speaking since he has retired from politics.

It was also a rare occasion as both the former and the current Chief Minister attended the event.

As it is a norm that the Chief Minister attends the annual event, it was unusual when it was heard that only one state exco confirms his attendance.

Hence, the Clan Council decided to invite the former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to grace the event.

It was supposed that Tan Sri Dr Koh agreed to attend the event after he was notified that Lim Guan Eng is not able to make it as Dr Koh is not interested in getting into any confrontation.

However, the Clan Council Chairman was caught in an awkward situation when Lim Guan Eng confirmed his attendance at the last minute. Even the current Chief Minister didn’t come prepared in a dress code, possibly because it was an eleventh hour decision. As the organizing committee has clearly published in the news that the attire for the event is traditional attire whether you are Chinese, Malay, Indian or any other race. Lim Guan Eng came wearing a t-shirt.

As said, it was a really extraordinary occasion as both Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Lim Guan Eng was given the stage to speak.

From the speeches, it was very obvious that there is a huge contrast between the character of the two individuals. One is a mild-mannered gentleman with positive and humble words while the other is a skeptic with sarcasms.

In his speech, the Chief Minister kept on boasting on how he have contributed to the names of the road, the allocations and their contributions. His choice of message is to accentuate his importance towards Penang.

On the other hand, the former Chief Minister gave appreciation and tribute to every single person from the former state EXCOs, the government officers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), individuals and generally the people of Penang towards achieving the UNESCO World Heritage status. His choice of message is to emphasize the hard work of every single person for Penang.

In fact, it seems like it has already been a norm that in almost every speeches that the Chief Minister gave, contain elements of politicking. Even at Jalan Pintal Tali last week, in his usual combative style, he simply cannot avoid talking about the ‘pink diamond’.

That is the huge contrast between the current and the former.

We ought to question ourselves, which type of leader do we prefer?

Or probably we should ask do we want a leader who makes every individual in the community relevant? Or do we want a politician who politicizes everything to make sure he wins the elections?

Do we want a combative culture where we argue and debate every single day?

In ‘New Politics’, we want the right thing to work. We want the right thing to happen. We want the right political culture to be practiced.

As many that know Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, I believe they would agree that he has left a legacy of positive and gentlemen politics in Penang.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 14th July 2017.

绅士政治典范

丹斯里许子根博士已经有很长一段时间没有现身公众场合及公开致词。由于他已经退出政坛,所以上个星期他在名英祠开放日向群众演说时,难免令人感到讶异。

那也是槟州前任首席部长,和现任首席部长一起出席活动的罕见场面。

槟州首席部长出席名英祠开放日是一个年度惯例,但今年听说原本只有一位行政议员答应出席活动,那是十分不寻常的情况。

因此,槟州各姓氏宗亲联合委员会决定邀请前首长丹斯里许子根博士出席活动,为场面增添光辉。

据了解,丹斯里许子根获知林冠英无法出席活动后,才答应出席,因为许子根不想卷入任何争端。

哪知,林冠英最后一分钟才表示要出席活动,令宗联委主席陷入尴尬局面。从现任首席部长没有依照大会的穿着要求出席活动来看,可知这是他最后一刻的决定。因为大会早前已经清楚说明,不论是华人、马来人、印度人或其他种族,都一律必须穿上传统服装出席活动,但林冠英只穿一件T恤赴会。

正如我所说,当天是一个非常特别的时刻,因为许子根与林冠英在同一个舞台上致词。

从演说中,可看出两人的性格存在如此巨大的差异。一位是温文儒雅的绅士,发表的是积极和谦虚的言论,而另一位是言辞中充满讽刺的疑神疑鬼人士。

首席部长在致词时,不断吹嘘他如何为道路命名、拨款和州政府的贡献。他传达的信息,尽是强调他对槟城的重要性。

另一方面,前首长赞扬每一位前朝行政议员、政府官员,非政府组织,乃至每一个槟城人,对他们成功争取联合国教科文组织颁布的世界文化遗产地位表示感谢。他传达的信息当中,强调每个人对槟城的辛勤付出。

相反的,现任首席部长的每一场演讲,都非政治化课题不可。即使在义福街举行的名英祠开放日,他也无法不谈“粉红钻石”,并展开一贯的战斗风格。

那就是现任和前任之间的巨大对比。

我们应该问问自己,我们比较喜欢哪类型的领导人?

或许,我们应该问问自己,我们想要一个能够连接社会中每一个人的领导人?还是想要一个凡事政治化的政客,以确保他本身赢得选举?

我们想拥抱战斗文化,每天吵架和争辩吗?

在“新政治”中,我们希望做正确的事。我们想要看到正确的事情所产生的正面效果,我们要实践正确的政治文化。

我相信许多认识丹斯里许子根博士的人,都同意他已经为槟城留下了积极和绅士作风的政治典范。