The last thing DAP or Harapan needs is a gag order - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 19, 2019
Malaysiakini : “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying
and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of
morbid symptoms appear.”
– Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks
COMMENT | You know what the real crisis in Harapan is? The fact that more Pakatan Harapan politicians do not speak up. If DAP members follow the “internal memo”
by Lim Kit Siang urging them to voice their grievances through the
proper channels – especially when these concern other coalition partners
– this would sound its death knell.
of this is optics. As a political party which has accused the MCA of
being “running dogs” for their Malay partners, the sight of your own
members mewling in the corner does not look good. Better to yap in the
open even if it means getting return fire than becoming what you claimed
would never happen to DAP.
Secondly, it is cathartic. The people
who voted for Harapan wanted change. They were told that this could
happen even though the coalition was partnering with the main architect
of old Malaysia. When theGrand Poohbahstarts acting up, the sight of politicians putting up a fight is exactly what a dejected base needs.
when DAP central executive committee member Ronnie Liu, for instance,
warns of creeping Mahatharism, and gets blowback from Bersatu members,
or when Klang MP Charles Santiago (photo) – who like Second
Deputy Penang Chief Minister P Ramamsamy is becoming the conscience of
Harapan – does a very public tango with the old maverick, this is a good
It means that there are politicians in Harapan who want a New Malaysia as opposed to a Neo-Malaysia. In
fact, this is what is keeping the Harapan flame alive, which is slowly
sputtering out. Some people ask what is going on with Harapan. The
answer is simple. That manifesto which some people want to burn is not worth the paper it is printed on. Nobody
really had a plan – if the old maverick is to be believed – because
they did not believe they could win. So all those reforms that everyone
bought into – including this writer, who not only endorsed Mahathir but
also Harapan – have only ourselves to blame.
But this does not mean that the game is over. You can still reform the system even though you did not think you would win. The
problem is that politicians who want to do something are being stymied
by those who are afraid to drain the swamp and worry about the return of
Umno. Don't they realise that they are slowly replacing Umno with Umno?
of this was the political narrative and take-no-prisoners dialectic of
the then-Harapan opposition. Where everything the Umno regime did was
going to destroy Malaysia, and post-election the narrative has been
“well maybe not really destroy Malaysia, especially if we can work it
out” type ploys that has angered a vocal section of the base.
Take the Lynas backpedalling, for instance. Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (photo),
after jumping on the Lynas bandwagon, says this about the extension –
"Isn't that enough to tell you that we gave a chance to Lynas to improve
and fulfil the conditions?”
Really? Can you imagine if Kok had said this before the election? Maybe
saying something like this, putting forward a nuanced argument would
have mitigated the feelings of betrayal that some people have about
Lynas. Instead, the Harapan opposition implied that the Najib regime was
complicit in the possible deaths of Malaysians due to radioactive
So bravo to those seven DAP members – Lee Chin Chen
(Bilut), Young Syefura Othman (Ketari), Kamache Doray Rajoo (Sabai),
Chow Yu Hui (Tras), Chiong Yoke Kong (Tanah Rata), Woo Chee Wan
(Mentakab) and Leong Yu Man (Triang) – who did the right thing and spoke
truth to power.
At least if the mandarins in Putrajaya do not
want to fulfil their commitments, there are DAP members who are making
their stand clear. This is important. Maybe it will not change
anything and God knows, the next racial and religious provocations will
push broken promises to the background, but at least people who vote for
the DAP still have some hope that there are politicians in the party
who will honour what they say they will do.
Whatever your view of
Lynas, what Bentong MP Wong Tack is doing is correct. Holding the
government of the day – one that he is a part of – to account. The
only way out of this for Harapan is to admit that their propaganda on
Lynas was wrong, and to work with detractors to correct whatever dangers
this project brings to Malaysia and be transparent in the process.
of this is the supporters of the old maverick who jumped on board
Harapan and now want things to go back to how it used to be. The
so-called power sharing formula, which was not really about sharing but
was in reality about acquiescence.
The role the MCA used to play
with Umno. The narrative that non-Malays should be grateful that they
have a place in this country and it is always about compromise, which
means the non-Malays have to step aside and play along to the greater
agenda of keeping the Malays in a single party through various social
and economic policies.
R Nadeswaran in his last column wrote,
“We, the people, wait for the answers with bated breath”. This is the
question to ask. When politicians state their stand, either because they
are forced to or because of their principles, they are answering the
questions the rakyat is asking.
Asking people to conform to party
politics or party discipline is what screwed up old Malaysia and it is
what is screwing up New Malaysia. If the best thing that this New
Malaysia has to offer is that politicians are bucking party politics
and not toeing the establishment line and voicing what the rakyat who
voted for them want of a new Malaysia, this would be one of the better
moments of the Harapan regime.
It is unproductive laying the blame
squarely on Mahathir. In fact, this is what the MCA and MIC did, with S
Samy Vellu in an interview with Malaysiakini going so far as to say that the old maverick made unilateral decisions and did not give a damn about the cabinet.
is important is that politicians stand up to him and what they believe
in. Asking people to channel their grievances through proper channels is
exactly what the old maverick wants. This is a stratagem from the Old
My advice to politicians from Harapan who want
to create a new Malaysia or at the very least plant the seeds of a new
Malaysia, is do not be quiet. Be vocal about it even if it means going
against the party and the government. This is especially important for
the younger elected representatives of Harapan.
Don’t worry about losing elections. That’s beyond your control and the fact is, you thought you would lose the last election. Maybe
if you did something, young people or people who had never bothered to
vote before, would feel inspired to vote, instead of thinking nothing
Besides the political terrain for the moment means
that power would be disused, and who knows if the far right can organise
anything beyond marching in the streets because of the blunders the
Harapan government makes and not the by any strategic brilliance of the
Do not worry about offending your coalition partners.
Do you think Bersatu Youth cares if it offends its coalition partners or
disrupts the grassroots and activists that political parties use? If
they are doing something that you believe is Old Malaysia, do not be
sucked into that mess.
In other words, speak up for Malaysians who voted for you and not just your political party.