On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Campaigns ruffle feathers

Adding to the sparks, rebel Penang leaders have joined in
the  fray with fingers pointing to the
existence of a Knock Out Kit Siang 
(KOKs) campaign.

Some say KOKS can also stand  for Knock
Out Karpal Singh, the  party's deputy

It's a strange campaign. No one  wants to
accept responsibility although it has gone on for years, according to the

No one has been named although  several
people have been quietly 

That has not stopped the central 
executive council (CEC) from ordering all state committees to hold  meetings to discuss the KOKS issue.

Feathers have been ruffled as a  result.
The dissidents in Penang,  former state
chief Teoh Teik Huat  and vice-chairman
Gooi Hock Seng,  are as red as a cock's

At a CEC meeting last week, they  insisted
that Karpal Singh name  names, according
to party sources.

The KOKS issue, however, seems  to be one
topic the DAP leadership  does not mind
talking about as it  seems to have
sidetracked the controversy involving the removal of  the three DAP stalwarts.

But before anyone could make  out what
KOKS is all about, there is  now another
campaign known as  Knock Out Dr Chen

According to national chairman  Dr Chen
Man Hin, certain members want to get rid of him, too.

The doctor who regularly takes  part in
marathons has so far outrun  and
outclassed all his detractors.  Some have
quit, with one defecting  to another

To add to the confusion, Wee and  his
friends have expressed support  for Dr
Chen openly after criticising  the
chairman for insisting they  apologise to
the party for their actions.

Some party leaders said that  such
campaigns were started by  young turks in
the party who had a  hand in the Knock
Out Old Leaders  (KOOLS) campaign in the
last party elections.

According to those implicated in  KOKS,
the same upstarts who  started KOOLS have
suddenly  pledged undying loyalty to the

KOOLS or not, staying cool isn't a 
virtue in the opposition party these 
days where magnanimity has become a rare commodity.

Newsmen reporting on the dissension have received angry calls  from party leaders, threatening to  end friendships.

Many DAP leaders seem to have  lost their
sense of humour. That is  understandable,
considering the  pressure they face  and the unwanted publicity in the

It is made worse by the fact that  their
estranged relationship involves party loyalists with over 20  years' experience.

The party is in danger of seeing a 
generation of experienced leaders 
being left out in the cold.

But given the voting trend, especially in urban areas where the  Rocket symbol is chosen rather  than the personalities of candidates, the
current uproar is unlikely to have much impact on the general election.

The dispute will probably drag  on until
the party congress on Aug  22 when
elections are held.

The possibility of secretary-general Lim Kit Siang losing the tussle  seems remote and in all likelihood  most of the rebels will not win a  CEC seat.

The dissidents will have to convince the party grassroots that  their presence will provide check  and balance.

The ruckus in the party has also 
provided an avenue for some has beens to make a comeback  by 
pledging support for the leadership 
which they had abandoned at some 

One state leader, who went on  holiday in
a neighbouring country  during the 1995
general election to  avoid campaigning,
has proclaimed  himself a dedicated
leader now.

A Youth leader who had called  for
reforms a few years back, insinuating that veteran leaders  should be ousted, is singing a different

As they say in politics, there are  no
permanent friends or permanent enemies.

For the DAP, it is time to stop behaving like fighting cocks in order  to fend off charges of No Action  Talk Only during the runup to the  general election.