Truculent, pugnacious, ever-combative…there are lots of “he-man” words that come to mind for Mr DAP, Lim Kit Siang. On the other side, “gentlemanly” and “wimp” are about the strongest terms used for Koh Tsu Koon, the fallen chief minister of Penang and current Gerakan leader.
How did Koh Tsu Koon end up having a seedless (boh hood) durian named after him in street language?
Blame tough guy Kit Siang. So says Penang Gerakan’s Teng Hock Nam, in a report by Hawkeye, the correspondent for Free Malaysia Today
It began after the 1990 general election in which Kit Siang defeated Gerakan founder Lim Chong Eu in Pengkalan Kota, and the Gerakan almost lost the state to DAP.
Kit Siang launched a broadside against Koh, the protege of Lim Chong Eu and incoming chief minister, branding him a “chief minister with no power” because Gerakan was forced to appoint Ibrahim Saad of Umno as deputy chief minister.
Teng Hock Name recalls state assembly meetings when Kit Siang would not allow Koh to clarify issues.
“He would ask Koh to sit down by shouting that he was a chief minister with no power.” He would pit Koh against Ibrahim Saad by portraying Koh as too weak to handle Umno’s demands, Teng said. Over the past decade, the taint took hold.
(Kit Siang had aims on winning Penang state for the DAP, and launched three campaigns, untimately unsuccessful, to wrest the state. He then moved to Ipoh to contest a parliamentary seat there. It was not until 2008 that the DAP, in partnership with Parti Keadilan Nasional and PAS swept in on a wave of popular discontent.
Teng said Koh’s family background compounded the image problem. Koh hails from a typically close-knit Chinese family and was taught to respect his elders, to be pious, tolerant, accommodating and humble.
Teng said he was worried when his chief refused to counter-attack Kit Siang. “I told him that his humble demeanour may come back to haunt him. Now Kit Siang’s son (chief minister) Lim Guan Eng is also applying the same tactic to bury Koh’s career,” Teng said.
The Star’s Joceline Tan attacks Koh Tsu Koon
» What next for ‘softly softly’ Koh?