N31 – BATU LANCANG
Never Giving Up
As a young man in Penang, Danny Law Heng Kiang was inspired by Lim Kit Siang when he came to Penang in 1986 to campaign for DAP. Lim raised numerous scandals by the BN government and Law was mesmerized by his speeches.
However, for 10 years that followed, Law didn’t take an active role in the party besides helping out during elections. In 1995, the party faced a major setback when its Penang State Assembly seats were reduced from 14 to 1.
In the wake of a near wipe-out for DAP, Law was motivated to increase his involvement in the party. He became part of the DAP Penang State Committee and helped out Chong Eng in her service centre in the Batu Lanchang state constituency.
In the 1999 elections Law replaced Chong Eng as the Assemblyperson of Batu Lanchang when the latter moved to a parliamentary seat. Once again, Batu Lanchang became the sole DAP State Assembly seat in Penang when the other candidates of the DAP lost.
DAP had entered into coalition with the then-Parti KeADILan Nasional and PAS to form the ill-fated Barisan Alternatif coalition in 1999. The result was disastrous for the DAP as even Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh lost their individual parliamentary seats.
With limited resources, Law struggled but made sure his constituents are well taken care of. “When people vote for you, you must make sure their trust is not taken for granted,” said Law.
As fate would have it, Law lost his seat in 2004 by a slim majority of 137 votes, leaving Phee Boon Poh as the sole DAP State Assemblyperson in Penang then. He then went to help out Karpal Singh in Bukit Gelugor and represented the veteran statesman in attending dinners and helping out in his service centre.
When Law went into battle in 2008, he knew there would be change coming and he was very confident of retaking the Batu Lanchang state seat. “Cronyism, the Penang Global City Centre fiasco, the rising cost of living as well as petrol hike had struck a sensitive chord with the constituents,” Law says.
After the 2008 victory, Law was sworn in as Exco in charge of Tourism Development & Culture. He comments that tourism is a portfolio in which you have to spend money on first before seeing returns. With the majority of Penang tax money going to the federal government with little returns, Penang had to perform with a smaller budget but Law believes Penang has done better.
“Sabah got an allocation of RM 25 million for their tourism and has hardly anything to show for it, Penang did more for only 5 million,” said Law. One sore point for the Penang State Government was the recently concluded George Town Festival which was meant to celebrate arts and culture in conjunction with George Town and Melaka being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The federal government refused to be involved in the popular festival. By choosing to completely ignore Penang, one wonders if the Malaysian government is only a government for BN states?
“No victory comes without sacrifice,” Law says.