N26 – PADANG KOTA
Through the ups and downs
Chow Kon Yeow always had a soft spot for politics. When he was as young as six, he recalls going to election rallies to listen and learn. The interests in politics just wouldn’t go away. Eventually, he felt that this was something that he was destined for. He studied sociology in university to get a feel of what the psyche of society was like.
In 1986, he made up his mind to help the DAP in their election campaign. He worked diligently preparing leaflets for the Tanjong candidate, Lim Kit Siang. When Lim was elected, Chow devoted his time fully into politics by becoming his political secretary. He learned how to be patient when dealing with people by helping out in the management of the constituency.
Chow first contested in 1990 and despite some defeats in which he had to resume employment, he stayed committed to the cause of the DAP. After party restructuring, Chow was elected Penang State DAP Chairman in 2000.
Chow did not give up on the struggle when the party went through its lowest moments in the Malaysian political sphere. Low on morale, it had seemed that BN would continue ruling the nation unchecked and unmonitored. The struggles of the DAP had seemingly hit rock bottom.
“When the 2004 Elections came about, we were suffering from lack of resources and suitable candidates” recalls Chow.
The 2004 General Elections once again proved to be a disappointment for the DAP as they only had 1 State Assemblyperson elected in Phee Boon Poh for Sungai Puyu. The dream of capturing the Penang state government seemed to be one that might never be achieved. Chow persevered though, realizing that BN had become severely corrupt, and that DAP would be the only hope left for Malaysians.
A decision was made to ask the Secretary General (Lim Guan Eng) to come to Penang in order to help strengthen the team. Chow recalls that they didn’t expect to capture the state government. The original plan was to have a stronger presence in the Penang State Assembly and launch a bid for the Penang State Government in the next elections.
We all knew what happened that night in March 2008. For the first time in Malaysian history, DAP in coalition with Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) was elected into power and DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng became Penang’s fourth Chief Minister. Eventually DAP, PKR and PAS decided to work together and Pakatan Rakyat was formed.
Chow was made Penang State Exco in charge of local government and traffic management. When asked about the adjustments he had to make, Chow says, “we now have the opportunity to translate the party vision into reality. We have the ability to also change the views of the people.”
BN also struggled to adjust into being the opposition party in Penang. Chow says all governments need opposition parties. “Our point has been to break the mindset that only BN can rule!”
In the short three years that DAP has been in government together with their PR partners, many milestones have been achieved. Chow’s role in traffic management itself was crucial.
The local governments themselves have been reformed so much so that the MPSP (Seberang Perai Municipal Council) went from a deficit to a surplus budget after the fall of the BN government. Members of Non-Governmental Organizations were appointed councilors and overall enforcement of the councils have been improved.
Chow knows that challenges lie ahead; he hopes that the people of Penang can already see the changes implemented and continue to support the efforts to change Malaysia for the better.