Gerakan must not lose hope

BASED on the recent developments our country is facing, it appears that Gerakan quitting Barisan Nasional is the latest twist that warrants our attention.

I have lived long enough to see the rise and fall of Gerakan. The party used to be in the opposition back in the 60s and managed to wrestle Penang from the then Alliance coalition.

Filled with intellectuals such as the late Syed Hussein Alatas, Lim Chong Eu, Tan Chee Khoon among others, the party managed to attract young talent who wanted to see a Malaysia with a fair and just society.

Penang under the leadership of Gerakan managed to develop quickly into the Pearl of the Orient where heavy industries and a massive influx of foreign investment turned a backwater island into one of the most developed states in Malaysia.

The Rifle Range flats in Penang were a testimony to Gerakan's unwavering intention on solving the issue of affordable housing without jeopardising the environment.

Of course, there are mishaps and unfortunate incidents but generally, Penang in the 80s and 90s were a much happier place.

Now I have to be constantly on my toes as the Pearl of the Orient might become the Venice of the East at a fleeting moment, the serene hills are now being plundered by rapacious developers only interested in catering their very rich clients and even the beaches are disappearing.

Unfortunately, Gerakan lost its lustre when it was seen as subservient to Umno. Many racial issues are left unattended while corruption is widespread in the Barisan Nasional administration. True, Gerakan is a clean party, true, Gerakan does not play the racial card, true, Gerakan preaches moderation and inclusiveness, but its apparent failure to be seen as fighting back against the racist party proved to be its biggest downfall.

Many of its calls for reform and actions were left unheeded or brushed aside by that racist and corrupt party.

Hence, the decision to sever its ties with BN is indeed a welcome sight and relief for the party that once ruled Penang.

No longer would Gerakan need to answer the misdeeds of its partners hence the guilty by association concept does not apply any more.

I hope to see the party regain its mojo by being bold enough to fight against any injustice.

Although the future is uncertain, contrary to many experts, I think that politics is something where anything is possible.

Of course, what the party has to do now is to get rid of some of its old guard and inject fresh blood and impetus to the party. Young people will only join if they see hope, that is how some parties manage to attract young people who are genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of the party and Malaysia.

No point boasting about the number of members you possess.

Rebuilding Gerakan will not be easy, it involves painstaking effort with patience and endurance. Gerakan must never lose hope.

Desmond Tan
Gerakan follower






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