KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Accusing the central working committee (CWC) of ignoring the party’s constitution, Gerakan vice president Huan Cheng Guan has revived his threat to leave if his three-year suspension for what the party calls “openly attacking the party and the party leadership,” is not retracted.
Huan’s on-again-off-again threats to leave Gerakan amid rumours he will join PKR had initially led to a show-cause letter being served on the leader, who claims to be highly influential in mainland Penang.
But it is unclear if Huan’s actions will have much of an effect even though he is a vice-president.
Since losing Penang in last year’s general elections, Gerakan has been reduced to a bit-part player in the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Huan’s self-proclaimed influence did not help prevent his party from a total wipe-out last March in their former stronghold.
On Friday night, the party’s CWC decided on the disciplinary action, which secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow said should have been harsher due to the “severe nature of his misbehaviour.”
Speaking to The Malaysian Insider today, Huan said that he wants a proper hearing by a disciplinary committee — which should have been set up in the first place to hear his case.
“Instead, the CWC has unilaterally made the decision behind closed doors where nobody knows what they discussed,” he said of the committee, which only includes the top leadership and not the 23 ordinary members of the central committee.
The length of the suspension means that Huan cannot contest the next party polls scheduled for 2011, effectively eradicating his influence in the medium term, so the former air force major believes there is no point staying if this is the case.
He also accused the Gerakan leadership of double-standards for not pursuing further action when Penang Umno members loyal to former Bukit Bendera chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail had torn pictures of Gerakan president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon but who were now clamping down hard on him for raising grassroot issues.
The episode between Ahmad and Koh had arisen after the former was reported to have called ethnic Chinese “squatters”, leading Koh to dissociate Gerakan Penang from its Umno counterpart.
On whether he will make a formal appeal to the central committee, which he is allowed to do under the constitution, he said he had not decided but would first and foremost defend himself by explaining the situation through the media.
“I want to defend myself and attack this decision first. They accused me of pressuring members to leave the party but they are smart and can make up their own minds,” Huan said.
His unhappiness with the party leadership also appeared to have been sparked by a relatively minor issue over the appointments of branch coordinators, particularly in the Machang Bubok divison in Penang.
But stating that he had received over 1,000 text messages last week asking him to stay, he decided to stick it out in Gerakan.
Huan’s backers feel that he is highly influential in Penang and would be an asset to Gerakan’s attempts at recapturing the state from the DAP and PR.
But Huan has been at odds with Penang chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan over the appointment of coordinators for parliamentary and state seats traditionally contested by Gerakan, leading to Huan being served a show-cause letter.
Last week, the former Batu Kawan MP also apologised for any offense his recent actions had caused to party leaders and said he would accept the decision of the top leadership, even if it decided to give him the sack.
Several branch and division leaders have also threatened to leave the party should Huan decide to do so. Branch and division leaders from the mainland of Penang have claimed that 1,000 members would follow him.
Huan, who works in Parliament as a special officer in the chief whip’s office and was the only top leader elected in party polls last year not aligned to president Koh, had contested the Bukit Tambun state seat in the last general election but lost to a PKR candidate.
PKR is understood to be courting Huan, who also works for the BN backbenchers’ club as its executive secretary, and his supporters.