The 12th General Elections held on 8th March 2008 saw a very strong antiestablishment wind which resulted in Barisan Nasional losing its two thirds majority in Parliament after the opposition captured 82 out of the 222 Parliamentary Seats. The “political tsunami” as described by many political commentators swept the rural areas of Kelantan and Kedah, as well as the urban areas of Penang, the Kinta Valley and the KL-Klang Valleys and suburban vicinities. Barisan Nasional also lost control of four states -- Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor, in addition to Kelantan.
The party suffered almost total annihilation. Out of the 12 Parliamentary and 31 State Seats allocated to the Party by the Barisan Nasional, the Party was totally wiped out in Penang and only managed to retain 2 Parliamentary Seats, Gerik (Perak) and Simpang Renggam (Johor) and 4 State Seats, Derga (Kedah), Ketari (Pahang), Bukit Batu (Johor) and Pemanis (Johor). When the cabinet appointments were announced, only Tan Lian Hoe (Gerik) and Senator A. Kohilan were appointed as Deputy Ministers. It was the darkest era in Gerakan’s entire history.
Needless to say, while the majority of the members understood the situation, realised the great challenge ahead and have remained steadfast with the party, there were those who could not accept this new reality, resulting in someleaving the party or moving to the other side, and others retreating into a stateof doldrums. Therefore, there was a dire need to revitalise, to reactivate and tomotivate.
The Party leadership quickly identified 1 vision, 1 mission, 3 thrusts, 8 strategies and 8 areas of concern (11388) to help it regain lost ground. It went on a nationwide “meet the grass-roots” session to show solidarity with the members on the ground as well as to get more feed-back for the recovery process.
The Party leadership also decided to press ahead with party elections at the Branch, Division, State and National levels, under the amended Party Constitution, from June 2008 onwards. It culminated in the National Delegates’ Conference 2008 in November with Dr. Koh Tsu Koon being returned unopposed as President and Chang Ko Youn elected as the Deputy President. Teng Chang Yeow was appointed the Secretary-General.
Subsequently, there was a change in the top leadership of the Barisan Nasional and the Federal Government with Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak appointed as the new Prime Minister on 3rd April 2009 and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the Deputy Prime Minister on 9th April 2009.
On 8th April 2009, Party President Dr. Koh Tsu Koon was appointed as Senator by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, and sworn in on the next day as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the important portfolios of National Unity and Performance Management, to spearhead the new mission of the new Prime Minister in promoting the 1Malaysia Spirit with commitment to “People First” and “Performance Now.”
On assuming his ministership, Dr. Koh was totally focused and absorbed in improving the Government delivery system by setting Key Performance Indices, establishing a new unit known as PEMANDU (PErformance MANagement and Delivery Unit) headed by another newly appointed Minister (Dato’ Seri Idris Jala) as the C.E.O. to drive it and work on the numerous Government Transformation Programmes. All these initiatives were meant to drive home the message that the Barisan Nasional Government under Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib was serious about changing the nation’s political landscape into one which is more Malaysian, more inclusive, more delivery-oriented and more people-centric. In doing so, the objectives of Wawasan 2020 are more realisable.
GERAKAN STILL MATTERS: WELCOMING NEW LEADERS
A number of political shifts also affected the Party in a big way. The Sabah People’s Progressive Party (SAPP) left the Barisan Nasional in August 2008. Two top SAPP leaders, Raymond Tan Shu Kiah (former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, SAPP Vice- President and Tanjong Papat Assemblyman) and Au Kam Wah (Assemblyman for Elopura and SAPP Youth Chief) disagreed with the move, left SAPP and became independent. They chose to join Gerakan in May 2009, with Raymond appointed a National Vice-President and remained as a Minister of Industrial Development in the Sabah Barisan Nasional Government. While Au Kam Wah appointed a CC member.
In January 2010, Ho Yip Kap (Independent Tanah Rata Assemblyman who was not accepted back to the MCA) joined Gerakan and immediately set up the Cameron Highlands Division headed by him.
Liew Yun Fah (former LDP Vice-President and Minister of Youth and Sports 2004 - 2008) also joined the party in June 2010 and was appointed another National Vice-President.
Peter Pang En Yin (former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, former LDP Vice-President and Assemblyman for Karamunting) decided to join Gerakan in March 2011 and was appointed CC member. Peter Pang retained his post of Minister of Youth and Sports of Sabah.
These leaders collectively came with more than 20,000 supporters, friends and well-wishers. Sabah Gerakan’s rank and file grew many fold so much so that political commentators termed Sabah as the “new frontier” of Party Gerakan. Hence, Gerakan is the only party to have gained four elected representatives with two state ministers, since March 2008, who chose Gerakan because of our ideology and performance as a Malaysian party.
The 13th General Election was widely expected to be held in 2011 or 2012 although the present term will only end in the first quarter of 2013. As the Party elections due in 2011 might coincide with the 13th General Election, the Party’s Central Committee at its meeting on 18th December 2010 decided to postpone the due elections. Article 43.1 allows a postponement for a maximum period of 15 months until 31st March 2013. At the meantime the preparations for the impending big battle went into full swing.
The Party’s founder, former President and former Chief Minister of Penang Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu passed away on 24th November 2010 after suffering a stroke at theripe old age of 91. The Party leaders and members were extremely grieved by thesad occasion and turned up in full force during the State Funeral accorded by theFederal Government in memory of a great Statesman and Malaysian.
On 23rd January 2011, a ceremony entitled “The Life & Legacy Of The Late Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu - A Tribute By Malaysians“ was held at the Wawasan Open University jointly by Gerakan and WOU to pay respect to, cherish the memories of and honour the late Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu. Leaders, members and supporters were there to hear the many messages and acknowledged his great contributions to the nation, party and society.
On 9th May 2011 the Wawasan Education Foundation decided to appoint Tun Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, former President and former Minister who had been instrumental in setting up WOU to succeed Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu as the WOU Chancellor. A befitting ceremony to install him formally is scheduled on 29th October 2011 at the Dewan Wawasan, Menara PGRM. This is yet another milestone in the Party’s history.