HOURS after lawyer Wee Choo Keong lost his Bukit Bintang parliamentary seat in a court hearing last week, he turned up for a dinner organised by the hawkers at Chow Kit.
The dinner, held in conjunction with the
Feast of the Hungry Ghost, has always
been considered compulsory for Chinese
politicians in the city.
Also present was his rival, Barisan
Nasional's DrLee Chong Meng, who
had just been declared the new MP.
Not to be out-done by Wee who took the
opportunity to speak at the dinner, Dr
Lee called an impromptu press conference
and declared that he could do better
than the DAP man.
"Don't pass judgment on me. Give me a
chance, I think I can do better,'' said
the veterinary doctor, popularly
referred to as Dr Ayam.
Dr Lee who had, in fact, expected the
High Court to call for a by-election after the disqualification of Wee, had formed a by-election steering committee last month.
The 45-year-old leader, who carries two
handphones and maintains three
telephones at his service centre at Setapak, is upset to be called an "appointed MP'' and MP Mahkamah by DAP
His more cynical opponents said his was
a victory without honour while one
commentator wrote in a national daily
that "this is a victory for the Barisan
Nasional but one which is uncomfortably close to a technical victory and which
is not easy to be triumphant about.''
During the April general election, Wee
polled 20,403 votes against Dr Lee's
14,857 in a three-cornered fight.
Independent Teng Chong Khim managed 123 votes.
Dr Lee said he had been serving the
people over the last four years and his
priorities were "to let the people in
Kuala Lumpur feel the difference between a DAP and Barisan MP.
"I acknowledge the fact that (Datuk)LeeLam Thye was a good MP but the area was neglected after Wee took over. He antagonised City Hall instead of
working with them,'' he said.
He insisted that all his telephone
numbers be published to make himself accessible.
The morning after the dinner, Wee turned
up at his Pudu service centre to hold a
Accompanied by three DAP MPS Dr Tan
Seng Giaw (Kepong), Tan Kok Wai
(Cheras), andLiew Ah Kim (Seputeh) Wee
vowed to carry on the fight.
The centre, manned by two assistants, is located at a run-down flat near the Pudu wet-market.
"The service centre will continue. My
doors are open to the people and the
other MPs will share the burden,'' said
the youthful-looking bachelor.
Wee, still visibly upset at the court
decision, said he wanted to see how Dr
Lee could resolve the problems of his
"As far as I am concerned, the people elected me. There's nothing much we can do about the court decision.
"Perhaps, the people can express their
unhappiness through the ballot box the
The court decision is certainly bitter for the DAP to swallow. Under Section 33 of the Election Offences Act, no appeal is allowed.
The decision to declare a losing candidate as the winner following the
disqualification of an elected MP is said
to be without precedent in Malaysia.
No lawyer or politician could recall a
similar case. Those interviewed said it
was probably the first in Malaysian
political and legal history.
For the DAP, it's another blow. The loss
of Bukit Bintang, a seat it had held for
the last 25 years, has reduced its
representation in the Dewan Rakyat from nine seats to eight.
Its Bagan parliamentary seat in Penang is in the balance following the death of P. Patto, the party's deputy secretary-general. The Barisan has also petitioned for a recount of the votes in the constituency won by Patto.
Said DAP secretary-general Lim Kit Siang: "It would appear that the Barisan
can't win at the hustings but can win at
the courts. There's no need for the
Barisan to work as they get two bites of
Urging Malaysians to ponder long on the
Malaysian electoral process, he
described the decision as "the latest
in a series of blows.''
But as Lim licked the wounds, the man of
the hour, Dr Lee, pledged to turn Bukit
Bintang into a model constituency. "The DAP's brash style is over. Malaysians want more than just rhetoric now,'' he said.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik pointed out that Wee was convicted in a court and fined RM7,000.
"The law says anyone fined more than
RM2,000 cannot stand for election. Its good news for the Barisan that we add one more voice of the people in Parliament,'' he said.
Wee, he said, was a lawyer and he knew
he was not eligible and that was why he
brought an insurance candidate along to the nomination centre.
But DAP Socialist Youth chief Lim Guan Eng said the High Court decision was a
mockery of the voters' choice and a
travesty of democracy.
For the voters of Bukit Bintang, the
fact remains that they now have to
cope with a Member of Parliament
they did not vote into office.
For Dr Lee, it's time to prove his worth
and to let time shed his image as an
appointed, rather than elected,