There's no moral dilemma of Umno and DAP working together - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Malaysiakini : “I am prepared to work with any Malaysian to
save Malaysia, not only Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin, but even with Najib
if the prime minister is prepared to admit that he had led the country
on a wrong tangent and that Malaysia must be saved with far-reaching
democratic and institutional reforms.” – DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang
| With 'prime minister in perpetual waiting' Anwar Ibrahim making
moves, Umno in perpetual schizophrenia mulling a reset, PAS in perpetual
hypocrisy waiting to see which side comes out on top, Bersatu in
perpetual fear of losing power and willing to throw even the kitchen
sink at any problem, it is plausible to consider the option of Umno
working with Pakatan Harapan to buy time while the Malay establishment
gets its bearings after the recent political upheavals.
nobody is surprised that Anwar may be making moves with elements from
Umno to dethrone Muhyiddin Yassin's regime, the big question remains if a
DAP/Umno combination is in the short-term works. Anwar may be playing
some sort of game with no purpose, but it does bring up interesting
have no idea why Umno and DAP in some sort of “unity” government is
such a horrible thing to consider. This idea that there is something
“morally” questionable about the DAP working with Umno is absurd.
The ever-earnest James Chai, in his comment piece,
makes his case that one of the moral dilemmas of a possible Anwar
government is the partnership between Umno and the DAP. Funnily enough,
his first two moral dilemmas, working with corrupt Umno politicians and
changing governments during a pandemic, makes the case that in reality,
all these supposed moral dilemmas are red herrings.
The DAP, by
making its Faustian bargain and working with Bersatu, demonstrated that
working with morally-suspect and corruption-tainted politicians was not
an impediment to “saving Malaysia”. Indeed, when Harapan briefly formed
the government, and Bersatu was accepting Umno frogs, the DAP bent over
backwards attempting to justify why Bersatu accepting Umno members was
part of the grand plan to save Malaysia.
recently-concluded disastrous Sabah election and the wholehearted
commitment by Harapan officials (including the DAP) to use the election
as a referendum on Muhyiddin's rule, demonstrates that whatever moral
questions of regime change in a pandemic are moot. Folks blame the PM
for the resurgence of the pandemic, but were hyping and cheering on
participants during the heat of the election.
if the DAP gets to decide to work with corruption-tainted politicians
(as they did with Bersatu), then I do not see why this becomes an issue
simply because Anwar decides to gather a motley morally-compromised
alliance made up of disaffected Umno political operatives to replace the
Truth be told. Umno and DAP working
together makes sense in a way that makes people uncomfortable. If we
dispense with the Manichean worldview, what we have are two essentially
race-based political entities, joining forces, and which most probably
represents a sizeable majority of voters.
actually a persuasive realpolitik case to be made with these two
historically hostile entities putting aside their horse manure feud and
working together now. The Umno apparatus and propagandists have always
complained that the MCA is not holding up its end of the racial equation
With the MCA bereft of majority support of
the Chinese community, what MCA is relying on are the Umno voters to
support them. This, of course, makes it extremely difficult for the MCA
to exert any kind of influence in the coalition, considering the party
does not have the backing of the majority in the Chinese community. This
makes moves by Umno to middle ground issues suspect because it does not
have the support of credible non-Malay power structures.
Umno, which has a pedigree of fighting for Malay "rights", made a
centrist move for political purposes, imagine the optics if they had the
backing of a credible non-Malay power structure.
What the DAP
brings to any kind of coalition is the majority backing of a voting
demographic and hence they can claim to be the “voice” of the community
on secular and egalitarian issues. The fact that they have to downplay
such aspirations proves how well they can play with weak factions of the
Malay political establishment. Now, imagine if they could do this with
Umno, which is a vital part of the Malay power structure and works on a
reform agenda which many in Umno know needs to be carried out if
Malaysia is to remain a viable democracy and not some sort of theocratic
The big question is: how much is too much for the
Malay establishment? We already know, from the words of Mahathir, that
the DAP was bending over backwards for the bumi agenda. That the
non-Malay – read Chinese – community did not get as much from the
government as the Malay community did. That the DAP was subservient
because it understood that Umno/PAS would use any excuse to destabilise
How do Umno and DAP work out a
relationship which satisfies both bases without alienating the
grassroots? Both now have experiences in dealing with a partner -
Bersatu - which is gobbling up everything, even though it is the weakest
link in the coalition.
There are really no ideological
differences between DAP and Umno. Of course, some folks will point to
the superficialities, but what the reality of Harapan rule has
demonstrated is that these differences mean bupkis when it comes to
policy. We know that Malay power structures use the DAP as a convenient
Umno operative Muhkriz Mahathir said so here: "Looking at Umno, when
there were big issues which we could not address, we would talk about
DAP, Chinese chauvinism, and how Lim Kit Siang becoming prime minister
would destroy Malaysia, that the Malays would disappear, and the mosques
can no longer air the azan. I admit that I too have said such things, in front of a 100 percent Malay audience."
about this. One of the big commonalities between the DAP and Umno is
both have been burned by former prime minister Mahathir. The old
maverick left Umno because Umno refused to bend the knee. He then left
Harapan because their knees broke after prolonged inertia in a supine
The reality is that DAP and Umno are always attempting
to be centre-right forces in this country, but both have been pulled
away from the middle ground by political personalities under various
forms of political scandals.
What people forget is this - that if
Umno and DAP were on the same page, they would be the ones setting the
agenda. I have no idea if this is a good or bad thing, for Malaysia, but
I do know that both would be speaking for the majority of this country.
If there is a dilemma, it would concern the values of the majority.