On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Bracing for some changes with new MP

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
press conference.

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
next round.''

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
the cherry.''

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,