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Koh still resisting Gerakan merger - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Gerakan newly elected president Dr Koh Tsu Koon said that efforts to merge the 13 Barisan Nasional coalition partners into a single entity representing all ethnic groups would require baby steps.

This is due to the separate party structures currently in place within the different component parties, he said at the sidelines of the 21st Gerakan national delegates conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

gerakan ndc 101008 koh tsu koonHowever, Koh also suggested a first step towards any merger, saying that AGMs can be held for Barisan at the state and division levels where state and division Barisan heads can be elected.

“At present, there are certain leaders of component parties who are Barisan division heads but they are only supported by their own parties, not supported by others,” he said

This approach, as opposed to a full fledged merger, will avoid conflict among component party chiefs at the state or division levels.

“Now, in a division there may be (for example) five component party heads. If we want to merge them and only have one head, people will ask who gets to be leader. That issue alone will lead to a lot of dissent and disruption,” he explained.

Koh said many issues would still have to be ironed out to make this a reality but he would raise it at the earliest BN meeting.

Under the present system, elected membera of parliament are automatically made BN division heads while the state BN head is the chief minister or menteri besar.

Single BN party

On outgoing Youth chief Mah Siew Keong’s suggestion that the party holds a ‘special meeting’ to discuss Gerakan’s status in the BN, Koh said it would be carried out at state level.

“We have already gone one round to meet the delegates. We would continue to discuss (the issue),” he said.

Previously, Koh said that 60 percent of party grassroots are keen on Gerakan pulling out from Barisan and become an independent party.

gerakan ndc 101008 delegatesKoh also said that the party grassroots and the public should give time for BN and Gerakan to reform but refused to set a time frame.

“It is like a relationship. When you go out with a girlfriend, you don’t say I want to get married in two months. My goodness!” he said.

Earlier, Koh told the conference in his opening address that he had raised the issue of merging the Barisan coalition into a single entity during a Barisan Youth conference in Sarawak 23 years ago.

He said that the suggestion was accepted in principle and but there were obstacles.

“Now, it is time for us to look into this suggestion, even if we cannot make BN a single party, but component parties can be more multi-racial,” he said.

He suggested that component parties can begin by changing their names, such as changing the M in Umno to Malaysian, Malaysian Citizen Association for MCA and Malaysian Integrated Congress for MIC.

Breaking away from tradition, all the debate sessions at this year’s conference are held behind closed doors.

Elaborating, Koh said that this was at the request of some delegates who wish to avoid media scrutiny.

“We want the delegates to speak their mind without having to worry about what the media would publish. Sometimes the media may not get the full story.

“Moreover, the debates are not representative because the time (allocated) is very short,” he said -