Koh out of politics, but still heard - Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia

Koh out of politics, but still heard

The former CM is not expected to come out of his retirement now, but in view of the pressing issues, his wisdom in leading the state for some 18 – years may not be a bad thing after all

Former Penang Chief Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon is not ready to play a more polished role in the issues of his home state, saying he preferred to stay out of the spotlight in spite of the emergence of many political and economic rumblings.

Staying fit and busy within his pace, Koh was not expected to come out of his retirement now, but in view of the pressing issues which have come to dominate Penang; his wisdom in leading the state for some 18 – years may not be a bad thing after all.

Penang is now soured with a mega but immobile Penang Transport Masterplan, which does not seem to be getting off the ground while reclamation continues to aggrieve fishermen and civil society because it is likely to erode the ecology.

Living costs continues upwards and traffic congestion worsens by each passing month as more people buy vehicles than reply on public stage buses.

A former Gerakan colleague H’ng Khoon Leng pointed out that Koh remained the longest serving chief minister in a highly demanding society of Penang.

Surely, he can impart advice but he is a class act, preferring to allow his successors in the party and state to capture the spotlight while he stays incognito.

Koh retains a sense of humor, cracking a joke with journalists when he retorted back that he can make a comeback at the age of 90 … or 92 in a veiled jab at former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamed, who is leading the Opposition.

In his own gentlemanly way, Koh had made an impression at the Penang Chinese Clan Council Heritage celebrations last month, staying on longer at the event than his successor – the fourth Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Koh reportedly needed some persuasion to attend the event in the first place, and was pleasantly surprised when Lim, who was initially listed as unable to come, had rescheduled his diary to also grace the occasion.

Heritage is a big thing in the George Town Unesco listing, and the Chinese clans – some 80 of them, have a lasting legacy in the inner and founding city of Penang.

The clans’ ancestors together with Koh’s paternal and maternal part of his families were among those listed as helping transform and benefitted from the changing of Penang fortunes – from trading to manufacturing and services.

“They made Penang what it is today for better or worse,” said H’ng.

Staying clear of politics in his rare public appearance at the Wawasan Open University’s book review event, Koh said a flat no to whether he would get involved in civil society work, which was his forte before his rise in Gerakan.

Koh became chief minister at a relatively young age of 41 and he retired at 63.

Last year Koh; now 67, lost his beloved wife Chui Kah Peng to cancer.

And now, he has found himself thrust back into the limelight.

Koh begun to post informal memoirs on his official Facebook account last year, and it was then serialized by the Chinese vernacular daily – the Kwong Wah Yit Poh – a publication founded by the late Dr Sun Yat Sen, the first president of the Republic of China before his ouster by the communists.

In June, the paper’s management wrote to inform him that there was a cessation of his column for no apparent reason as speculation began to mount that it was directed to stop Koh from republishing his thoughts on Penang.

Koh said that he has clarified the issue via his social media account, saying he accepted the decision of the editors as he always respects the freedom and discretion of the media.

The daily’s management has since offered to reprint his column in its forum section; in which Koh says he would consider, but stressed that he will continue to share his perception of things through his official Facebook account.

“Those keen to read it, can do so on my Facebook account.”

Badgered on about his future, Koh said that his work at the university was hectic, and he also presents academic lectures to a selected audience; saying he has spoken at talks in China and US.

Asked if he misses the old times, Koh said that he does not think about it.

But perhaps the people of Penang may miss him.

Evidently enough, the present politics of harshness to a point of intimidation seemed to have engulfed the state where civil society is entrenched.

There are libel suits flying here and there, but as former DAP veteran Abdul Razak Hamid had professed; someone initiated the attack and the other party deemed that a counter – attack is the best form of defense.

So everybody is attacking each other now in Penang, Abdul Razak said, adding that when everybody is preoccupied with their rivals, the people – centric issues tend to be overlooked.

“In any political brinkmanship, the victors should always be the people. If the politicians win all the time, then they will continue to just indulge in politicking instead of doing some real work – which is to serve the people at large.”





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