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Gerakan's Teng on tough mission to wrest DAP-led state
GEORGE TOWN: The guessing game on who takes over as Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman has finally come to end.
Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow has been picked by Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to lead the coalition in the state.
This comes in the wake of an announcement by Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon in November last year, that he would not contest in the coming general election.
The post of Penang BN chairman, to some, is an unenviable post that comes with the heavy responsibility of wresting the state from the DAP-led state government of the opposition pact.
Party insiders say an agreement was reached in Gerakan on who to recommend as the new Penang BN chief but the announcement was delayed due to the infighting in Penang Gerakan over the matter.
However, no names were made public until today.
Chang Yeow emerged the front-runner for the post of Penang chief minister, just before polling day in the last general election in 2008, but Gerakan's dismal performance in that election, including his defeat, paid put to that idea.
However, he is now in the spotlight again. As state BN chairman, he is considered chief-minister designate, should BN capture the state in the coming election.
The 47-year-old Batu Pahat-born comes from a family of political leaders occupying positions on both sides of the divide.
His elder brother, Datuk Teng Chang Khim, is Selangor DAP leader and state legislative assembly speaker in the PKR-led Selangor Government.
His father, who wishes to maintain a low profile, is a staunch MCA grassroots leader in Batu Pahat, the home base of MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
An uncle, Datuk Teng Boon Soon is the MP for Tebrau and an MCA strongman who once served as deputy minister of national unity, culture, arts and heritage.
Interestingly, Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and his father, Lim Kit Siang, also come from Batu Pahat.
That aside, party leaders and members best remember Chang Yeow as the politician who defeated DAP chairman Karpal Singh for the Padang Kota state seat in the 1995 general election, with a majority of more than 2,500 votes.
Penang-based political analyst Datuk Dr Cheah See Kian said Najib made a smart move by appointing Chang Yeow as state chairman as he was known to be an "aggressive fighter" which suited well to face the Penang chief minister.
"Moreover Teng (Chang Yeow) can advocate and this can make the people think. Apart from that, he comes from a younger generation of leaders. It seems that BN has put up a team of young leaders in Penang," he said.
Chang Yeow may not be popular in Gerakan but his boldness on certain issues has definitely caught the eye of some leaders, both within the party and outside.
Cheah further explained that by appointing Chang Yeow as the new Penang BN leader, it could bring a new impetus to the whole state machinery as he was known to be among very few party leaders who had taken on opposition leaders in a political debate.
"By having Teng Chang Yeow (at the helm), it will at least, increase the fighting chance of the BN. It would be able to keep the current state government at bay," he said. -- BERNAMA