Saturday January 5, 2013
Red faces over ‘1314’ mistake
By JOCELINE TAN
DAP leaders say it is a computing glitch but some have described the shocking revisions to DAP election results three weeks after the polls as Ubah Rocket Style.
AIYOOOOOO! How can?” That was the SMS reaction of one DAP MP after learning of his party's election fiasco.
“It's what I would call a perception disaster,” the DAP MP said when contacted.
The blunder in the party's election result has left DAP leaders red-faced and many of its members angry and astounded.
Another DAP figure described it as a “joke”. Nothing like this, he said, had ever happened in the party, where the winner was actually the loser and the loser is now the winner.
“I believe it was a genuine mistake but I feel sad,” he said.
On Thursday, the DAP said a “technical glitch” had caused errors in the result of the party election which took place on Dec 15.
The mistake apparently occurred during a cut-and-paste job after the results were tabulated.
The party's election returning officer Pooi Weng Keong said that grassroots worker Vincent Wu, who had won the sixth spot in the 20-member central executive committee (CEC) did not actually win. Instead, the party's new Malay star Zairil Khir Johari had managed to squeeze into the 20th spot and was the winner.
Wu had only received 669 votes and not 1,202 as previously reported. As such, he had dropped to No. 26 in the new results. Zairil who was reported to have received 305 votes earlier actually got 803 votes under the new results.
The Cantonese-speaking members in the party are calling the event “1314” because the mistake was announced in the year 2013, in the first month and on the fourth day. In Cantonese, “1314” means “one survives, another dies”.
Some party members are upset that the party has taken three weeks to correct the situation. In the meantime, they said Umno had a field day bashing the party for not electing a Malay into the CEC because of the mistake.
Pooi detected the mistake a day after the election and immediately notified secretary-general Lim Guan Eng. It was then decided that its latest recruit Ong Kian Ming lead an internal audit. Sources said the whole thing was kept under wraps because the party was unsure how to handle it.
When the outcome of the audit was presented to the CEC, a discussion was held on the impact of going public with it.
One view was that the results had been announced, there was no challenge to it and they should let sleeping dogs lie. But the CEC decided that they had to come clean and own up to the mistake because something so sensational was bound to leak.
One party leader then insisted on a gag order on who could speak on the issue but was over-ruled.
However, party leaders have been unwilling to speak on the record about this because it is simply too embarrassing. No matter how they talk around it, the fact remains that it was a big-time bungle in prime-time politics.
As one party official admitted: “Our party members will accept what happened but people outside must think we are stupid.
“If we can't even manage a simple election, how can we convince them that we can run the country?”
The Star got wind of the matter when some DAP politicians tweeted about it on Thursday evening. It was so incredible that some journalists initially thought it was a hoax. It was only after a string of calls to verify the news and checking the party website that the journalists were convinced.
The biggest irony of course is that this is the party that has been trying to tell the Election Commission how to do its job. The folk in the Election Commission are probably having the last laugh now.
Ong, who became famous for accusing the Election Commission of incompetency and wrong-doing, ended up sorting out the muddle for the DAP. The next time Ong tries to teach the Election Commission how to do its job, it will be able to tell Ong to start in his own backyard.
DAP's dilemma now is how to convince the general public that it was a genuine mistake and not something to engineer a Malay face into the top party echelon.
The opinion out there is that it is too coincidental for Zairil to end up as the eventual winner. His victory will ring somewhat hollow because there will always be lingering doubts about his place in the CEC.
Besides, it is no secret that the top leadership had rooted for him so much that party members joked that he stepped into the party with a silver spoon in his mouth.
On the other hand, there is much sympathy for Wu because he is likeable, hard-working and has done much for the party.
The market talk is that he was the only “nobody” in the CEC; everyone else who won was either an assemblyman or MP. He was the most dispensable face in the line-up and he did not have a famous family name.
The DAP election video Ubah Rocket Style has been a big hit since it was unveiled at the DAP Congress. It is a clever political parody borrowing from the Korean Gangnam Style music video to mock at the discrepancies of the ruling coalition and to urge Malaysians to change the government.
But it has also become the catchphrase for the DAP election outcome if you don't like the result, then Ubah Rocket Style.