KOTA KINABALU, Nov 23 — Newly installed Sabah DAP chief Datuk Frankie Poon downplayed the changes to the party’s leadership line-up after its internal election last Sunday.
He denied internal rifts and factionalism with several key lawmakers deliberately left out of the new committee, as alleged by party pioneer Jimmy Wong who announced his resignation from DAP in the same statement last night.
Instead, Poon said the new committee members should be given a chance to prove themselves.
“Absolutely no. There is no faction. Everyone works hard for the party and the people. ‘
“Of course there will be wins and losses in any party poll but this does not mean that there are two or more separate groups fighting with each other within the party,” he said when contacted by reporters for comment.
Poon said it is normal to have leaders ousted in any party elections in a democracy, and stressed that Sabah DAP had been democratic in selecting the new committee.
“There are some new faces but maybe they are also keen members who want to contribute more to the party and the people,” he added.
He said the new line up was a good opportunity for the party to grow and urged people to give them time to prove they could contribute.
“We do not know yet how the new line up would turn the party around but we must give time and see how it goes. We still have to work as a team regardless of whether we have any party position, because ultimately we are working for the people, not ourselves,” he said.
Poon also said that just because they did not hold positions, does not mean they could not contribute to the party or the people.
“I would still do my best and work for the party as well even if I am no longer the chairman,” he added.
The Tanjung Papat assemblyman was elected as Sabah DAP chief last weekend.
The move was expected since Poon took over from the late Datuk Stephen Wong in 2019.
However, three other lawmakers — former secretary and Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin, former Wanita chief and Kepayan assemblyman Jannie Lasimbang, as well as Elopura assemblyman Calvin Chong, were left out of the top 15.
Elected representatives who made the state committee was Luyang assemblyman Ginger Phoong who is state secretary, taking over from Chan, Tenom MP Noorita Sual who is vice-chairman, Sandakan MP Vivian Wong who is state publicity secretary, while Likas assemblyman Tan Lee Fatt was named as her assistant.
Dismayed with the results, party veteran and former state chief Jimmy Wong yesterday announced he was quitting the party citing party politics and an unappreciative new leadership.
Jimmy, who was chief from 2013 to 2017 and was party advisor until the elections on Saturday, said that the newcomers did not value the struggles and contribution of the party’s pioneers and took the “new faction” to task for leaving out leaders like Chan and Lasimbang.
In a separate statement, two-term assemblyman Lasimbang said her exclusion from the state committee does not dampen her commitment to DAP and Orang Asal struggle.
However, she urged the DAP central leadership to review and improve the party’s internal mechanisms in choosing their leaders to include minority voices.
“In my view, the DAP leadership needs to seriously consider mechanisms to ensure inclusiveness and that leaders who can effectively contribute to the party are not sidelined.
“I strongly suggest examining decision-making through the process of building consensus, including in the selection of its leaders. Consensus-building and consensus decision-making are indigenous ways and very successful in maintaining harmony in an organisation,” she said.
She cited the success of the Sabah Wanita DAP wing in building inclusiveness and consensus for its 2021-2023 line-up of leaders.
“In the process, DAP women members identified women leaders who have worked hard and contributed to the party over the years, and also included all division heads and ethnic and geographical representatives in the current AJK ranks,” she said.
Lasimbang, who held the position of Sabah DAP Women chief for five years, said that she would continue her vision for herself and the party and believed she still had a voice in the party.
“I entered politics to contribute towards a better Sabah and especially to struggle for the recognition of the rights of the Orang Asal of Sabah. So I am in DAP for the Orang Asal and as a Sabahan, not for myself.
“I am still a representative of the Sabah Native Consultative Committee under the highest body of DAP ie the Central Executive Committee, and this shows that DAP as a national party recognises Orang Asal representation,” she said.