An open letter to Tony Pua

To our readers,

Beginning Feb 28, we invite readers who are following any particular campaign trail to share their thoughts and observations about the quality of debates and candidates at any ceramah they are at.

We hope that these kinds of articles will represent the diversity of voices of voters out there who make the effort to hear what the candidates have to say, and want to express their assessment of the candidate. To be fair, we will also aim to allow a candidate or political party their right of reply through this space.

However, out of respect for all parties (political parties, candidates and readers), articles should be concise and provide well-argued and intelligent observations. Please e-mail all comments and pictures, if any, to For guidelines on what is likely to be published, please go to Guidelines for Comments.

We kick off “On the Ceramah Trail” with a letter to DAP candidate for the PJ Utara parliamentary seat, Tony Pua. Team


Dear Tony Pua,

I had posted a comment on your blog on Monday, Feb 25 night but I figure you would be too busy at this point with your campaign to look at it. So, I decided to redirect it to instead, where others might read it even if you don’t.

On Monday night, I went to the SS2 ceramah to listen to you speak. I had hoped to find out for myself, a little more about who you are and what you stood for since I will be voting in your constituency on March 8. And not least, because you had been spoken of highly by a friend.

But, I never did get to that point, because after standing through two hours of inarticulate and uninspiring speeches by several other DAP candidates and supporters that evening, save for lawyer Haris Ibrahim’s (who is not a DAP member), I decided to leave. And when I did, you still had not spoken.

I left not because I could not wait, but for these following two reasons. The first being that the DAP candidates spoke primarily in Mandarin or Cantonese. For a party that proposes to do away with sectarian politics, I found it insulting that its members chose to communicate in a language that panders to that very notion which it opposes. I did not understand them. It is problematic and serves to alienate. And when they did lapse into English that evening, it was painful to listen to as it was clearly a language that they were not comfortable with, and hence rendered them ineffective for me.

Interestingly, Bahasa Malaysia was hardly used by the candidates. (DAP candidate for the Damansara Utama state seat) Dr. Cheah Wing Yin’s tokenistic use of it in his introduction was halting and pathetic, to say the least.

Secondly, I got a little tired from the ranting and sloganeering that was dished out, and found little in way of ideas and solutions. Talk about government quotas, increasing crime rate, lack of accountability, and weak leadership is fine and good. But frankly, we already know what the problems are in this country. What we would like to know from you is how, if DAP politicians are voted in, you propose to address these issues in Parliament and what strategies you have up your sleeves to be effective within a system that essentially works at rendering you impotent. Your colleagues were not very inspiring that evening, I’m afraid.

The arguments put forth about why and how important it is to vote the opposition in have been plentiful and clearly expressed in blogs, online news sites and banter amongst friends. Suffice to say in this posting that I’m familiar with them, I agree, and was ready to vote for you. I also want very much to like the DAP. But it’s hard.

Given the low levels of argument and lack of creative imagination displayed in the two hours of ceramah that I stood through that night, I do not know if I can honestly and full-heartedly give my vote to the opposition at this point. I went, hoping to be excited, but I left deflated instead.

Granted, I didn’t give myself a chance to hear you out. But there will be other opportunities, I’m sure. I look forward to hear you speak in the near future. I sincerely hope that when I do, you will be able to convince me that you are a lot more than what I experienced of your colleagues on Monday night in SS2. Also, please try not to let us wait so long, especially when you are scheduled to speak in your own constituency.

Thank you.

Chee Sek Thim

Note: Tony Pua (DAP) is contesting against incumbent Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun (Barisan Nasional-MCA) for the PJ Utara parliamentary seat in Selangor. Total voters: 76,618; Chinese (76.7%), Malay (15.4%), Indian (6.4%), Others (1.5%).

Tony Pua responds