Ronnie Liu’s 'paper tiger' is only half the problem - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, October 26, 2019
Malaysiakini : “The racist policies of Bersatu are a product of a bygone political era that should not be in use anymore. Such tactics will be rejected by progressive urban voters." - DAP Youth political education director, Chiong Yoke Kong (2016).
COMMENT | It took guts for DAP state assemblyperson Ronnie Liu to write about
the Bersatu grand poobah Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Cajones is something
lacking in DAP these days. The party has decided that questioning a
prime minister and policy failure is something which sabotages Pakatan
Harapan. Liu has had to declare his love for Harapan which further
advances the narrative that DAP is the new MCA.
DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke in condemning Liu's
statements claimed that these were Liu's “personal" views and were not
the stand of the party. Furthermore, he characterised Liu’s statements
as “an act of sabotage to destabilise and disrupt the harmony of the
The boy minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman has since threatened to declare open season on DAP, PAS wants the DAP outlawed
and Loke seriously thinks that Ronnie’s statement, a sentiment shared
by many supporters, is an act of sabotage? This should really tell
partisans how the powerbrokers in DAP think.
This, of course, is
out of the playbook of DAP’s responses to anything that could put them
in a negative light even if such statements are based on fact or
principles. I will get back to this shortly. I have often argued that it
is not constructive only blaming the old maverick for the sad state of
I want to know is – and maybe some of you feel the same way – is what
is DAP’s role in all of this? I say DAP because Liu is from DAP and
although the DAP may wish to disavow his statements, they are part of
the federal government and important partners in the coalition in terms
of their number of seats, not to mention that Liu's commitment to
principles should extend to how his party behaves in a coalition.
Liu’s piece about the "paper tiger"
has been getting a lot of play, especially from partisans who view
Mahathir as the great Judas of the Harapan dream. I suppose he is, but I
want people to carefully consider a few points Liu raised and consider
if Mahathir is solely to blame.
Liu wrote that the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination (Icerd) and the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court (ICC) were things that could benefit Malaysia but because
of Mahathir’s decision, it was shelved because of pressure from the
right-wing. What Liu does not get into was where was the DAP in all of
this. Indeed, the DAP gave the power to the grand poobah to make this
decision. Lim Guan Eng believed that Mahathir was the “best person” to
deal with this issue.
Lim, the finance minister and big cheese of DAP, said this: "Both
Umno and PAS have been vocal on the issue saying there would be chaos
if the treaty is ratified and I think Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be the
best person to handle the issue."
DAP political operatives who did support the issue were called up by the state security apparatus. From news reports:
“Chow (Yu Hui) and Chiong (Yoke Kong) are candidates for the DAP
Socialist Youth chief and deputy chief's posts at the wing's upcoming
elections this Sunday. The two had supported the Icerd ratification in
their personal capacities.”
Here we go again - the "in their
personal capacities” line of defence. I have never understood how there
are so many political operatives in DAP who express personal opinions
which are egalitarian and principled but which do not translate to
official party statements. Funny, right?
Liu also goes on to say
that while other Harapan leaders are calling for needs-based affirmative
action, Mahathir is playing the same old game. Now I know what PKR
leader Anwar Ibrahim has said about a needs-based approach but what has
DAP done in terms of political strategies, policy or rhetoric that would
act as a counternarrative to the grand poobah? Indeed as far as I can
tell, the DAP has been tiptoeing around this issue and attempting all
sorts of deflections because they are afraid to be seen as trespassing
on Malay "rights".
Concerning the khat controversy,
it was Lim Kit Siang, the grand old man of the party, who pushed the
narrative that it was not an attempt at Islamisation (which earned him
the moniker of Lim “Khat” Siang). The DAP was all over the place on this
issue which led many to believe that the “don’t spook
the Malays” narrative had erased that line in the sand when it comes to
the intrusion of the state-sanctioned religion into public spheres of
It is pointless laying all the blame on the old
maverick’s doorstep especially when it comes to the Islamic agenda of
Harapan. Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Harapan’s religious czar before the
election, enjoyed popular support amongst the DAP base.
Indeed just three years ago, DAP leader Zairil Khir Johari was waxing lyrical
over Amanah’s “progressive” Islam, “It (Amanah) is progressive because
it’s what we agreed, all such matters are to be consulted with coalition
partners. Consultation, or syura, is a tenet of Islam and the basis of democracy.”
what happened to all that supposed consultation? Or is the claim now
that the Islamic agenda of Harapan has nothing to do with coalition
consultation and it is solely in the hands of the religious czar?
Someone should tell this to activist Maryam Lee because I think she
hopes the progressive Islamic elements of Harapan will back her up.
DAP understand why - beyond hardcore partisans - nobody really trusts
that it can maintain its values in the face of the old maverick’s
machinations? DAP parliamentarian Charles Santiago has to hang his head in shame
when it comes to the coalition’s backtracking on the Security Offences
(Special Measures) Act (Sosma), but if we are really objective of the
way how supine DAP has become, Harapan supporters should be hanging
their heads in shame all the time.
Liu writes that Mahathir thinks
he is all-powerful. The reason why he thinks this way is that nobody -
certainly not from the DAP - has checked his power. They are too afraid
that the coalition will break up. They are too afraid that Umno/PAS will
take over the government. Or maybe, they are too afraid to lose power.
get me wrong. These are legitimate fears but if the DAP is unwilling to
spend the political capital it has got now, then when will they ever be
a part of the reforms that they claim would save Malaysia? Chiong Yoke
Kong (whose quote is at the beginning of this article) got it right
three years ago.
Remember that old saying that there are no victims. Only volunteers.