Mah vows drastic changes

LONG TERM: New Gerakan president asks members to support party transformation

 KUALA LUMPUR: Newly-elected  Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong has called on party members to bear with the changes he plans to make that  will boost the transformation of the party.

Mah, who was voted in at the party's 42nd national delegates conference on Saturday, urged members not to be quick in judgment based on his initial steps as the party's head.

"Do not see how I start but instead how I finish my term as the party president," he said in his closing speech yesterday.

Mah warned delegates that he would make drastic changes over the next few months that would likely cause unhappiness among many of them.

"I have many weaknesses but I always try to think long term, so do not make judgments so fast," he said, noting that he would serve his full three-year term.

Mah, the party's former vice-president, secured the top post in the party after beating his rival, Penang chairman Teng Chang Yeow, with a 509 vote-majority.

Mah assured delegates that no time would be wasted in getting the party on its feet again.

"But when I make changes within the party, I hope all central delegates will support me."

Gerakan has been the focus of pessimistic views by political pundits following its dismal performance in the last two general elections. It only managed to win a single parliamentary and three state seats in the 13th General Election on May 5.

On calls by several speakers at the two-day congress for Gerakan to leave the Barisan Nasional coalition, Mah responded at a press conference later that it was not a decision to "jump into" and needed a lot of consideration.

However, he admitted that the party wanted to play a bigger and more important role in BN.

Prompted by delegates who had earlier conveyed their criticisms against his decision to not contest in the Teluk Intan constituency, Mah clarified that he was standing firm on his word.

"I made a promise. Just because I am the party president does not mean that I can take back what I say. There are so many younger people who are capable of fighting for the seat there."

Asked about delegates who had blamed Umno for contributing to the party's poor performance in the last general election, Mah urged members to stop blaming their coalition partners and instead be focused on being part of a united BN.





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