PETALING JAYA: Former MPs Charles Santiago and Wong Tack have hit back at the DAP leadership following their inconsistent comments over the decisions to leave them out of the GE15 race.
Santiago said he was never told earlier that he would not be fielded in the general election.
He slammed DAP deputy national chairman Gobind Singh and secretary-general Anthony Loke for saying he was aware of the party’s plan to drop him from this election since 2013.
Santiago said the statement by the duo was an attempt to repair the backlash of those questioning DAP’s decision not to field him.
“Please don’t tarnish my image to manage the backlash as I was never informed that 2018 would be my last term,” said Santiago in a Facebook post yesterday.
“There were no such arrangements and no indication about calls to replace me in 2013 or 2018, as suggested by Gobind. These narratives are an afterthought to mitigate the backlash, even before the official candidate list was announced.”
Santiago said he was glad that both Gobind and Loke had recognised the magnanimity with which he accepted the party’s decision, but added that it was unfortunate that they were resorting to such responses given the massive public criticism.
“It’s unbecoming of Loke and Gobind to hint that they were doing me a favour by allowing me to continue as a lawmaker, given that I do not hold positions in the party.”
Nevertheless, he said Klang voters should vote for Pakatan Harapan in his absence.
Meanwhile, Gobind said he had told Santiago only last week that he was to be replaced, and there should be no question that the decision not to field him was “an afterthought.”
“My position remains. Santiago met me in 2013 and 2018 to support his candidature in Klang. It was clear then that there were calls for him to be replaced. I supported him nevertheless, and he was allowed to carry on.
“In 2018, I told him that it would be difficult to carry on after that and that 2018 would be the last. I acknowledge and appreciate that Santiago has been magnanimous, but to say this is an afterthought isn’t correct,” said Gobind.
Wong Tack, meanwhile, said he was dropped in the coming general election without even being offered to stand in the Cameron Highlands seat in the first place.
The incumbent Bentong MP said the DAP leadership’s claim he was not dropped was inaccurate.
“On Oct 16, I was told that the Pahang DAP state committee had decided to remove me from Bentong. I would not be contesting any of the Pahang seats. I was to disappear from Pahang completely,” he said. Loke stated during the DAP’s announcement of candidates for Pahang parliamentary seats on Wednesday that the party offered him a seat in Cameron Highlands after a three-hour discussion with him on Sunday, which he declined the following day.
Incumbent Ketari assemblyman Young Syefura Othman has since been announced as Pakatan Harapan’s candidate to defend the Bentong seat in the coming polls.
Wong, who has since broken ranks with DAP by announcing he would contest Bentong as an independent candidate, said he was confident the people would give him the mandate again.
Wong first contested the Bentong seat under the DAP ticket in 2013, narrowly being defeated by Barisan Nasional’s Tan Sri Liow Tiong Lai by 379 votes.
He successfully unseated Liow in their rematch in 2018 by winning the seat with a 2,032-vote majority.