What will the DAP do? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, March 08, 2021
Malaysiakini : “You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?" "I
wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by
link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my
own free will I wore it.” - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
COMMENT | When MCA deputy president Dr Mah Hang Soon said this-"Are
you ready, comrades? They want to replace MCA. This shows that in their
hearts, they know we are on the right path” - he may have unwittingly
defined the dilemma non-Malay political power brokers find themselves
problem with DAP attaching itself to Malay power brokers is not that
there has not been a common policy agenda or initiatives but rather it
is that the DAP has allowed itself to be subsumed by the policies of
"ketuanism” in the belief that compromising on its supposed egalitarian
agenda would either reap political benefits or sustain their positions
in Malay power structures.
The hypocrisy of not working with
“kleptocrats” is the kind of dissonance that the base accepts but the
majority of Malays look upon with derision. It is not that the majority
have a problem with working with kleptocrats; it is that the DAP has
smugly demonised everyone else for doing the kind of thing they claim is
anathema to them.
Beyond that, any Malay power structure working
with the DAP will be open to attacks by the Malay uber alles crowd. This
should not be the DAP’s problem.
What the DAP should do is to
make its stance clear and that even if they lose votes in Parliament on
policies they put forward, then this is the way democracies and
political parties (even in the same coalition) work.
Remember how the DAP was demonised for supporting khat when they should have just held the line when it came to religious influences in our public schools.
Now we have the old maverick claiming that there is too much emphasis
on religion in schools and as far as entitlements programmes go - “If
students believe in hard work, obviously they will be able to succeed,”
former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said. “But if they believe in
just getting free money from the government, they will not succeed.”
you see, if the DAP just held that line despite the narrative that the
Malay uber alles crowd promote that DAP needs to bend, the DAP would be
that secular egalitarian force within any coalition they are in and
would not have to justify their twisting and turning even though they
are working with “kleptocrats” and religionists.
Of course, there
will be rabble-rousing and appeals to populism by the Malay uber alles
crowd even by supposed Malay "progressives" but if we have learnt
anything it is that the DAP will always be the punching bag no matter
what they do, so they may as well do the “right” thing and leave the
“ketuanism” to their Malay counterparts instead of enabling it.
fact that the DAP always bends to its coalition racial policies while
their partners never compromise on policies that the DAP puts forward
should tell us something about any coalition that the DAP works with.
in mind during the height of the turmoil within Pakatan Harapan, then
deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong said this about the partners needing each other
- “Do we realise that in reality DAP needs Bersatu and Bersatu needs
DAP to keep Harapan together and succeed in rebuilding Malaysia?”
“right path” has been that horse manure power-sharing formula that has
put us into this mess, and perhaps we will never find our way out of it.
Do not for one minute believe cretins who claim that Malaysia is not
ready for the kind of democratic reforms and independent institutions
that offer some form of functionality even if on a utilitarian scale.
in mind that the Islamisation and the radicalisation of racial politics
were state policies and the subaltern history of this country points to
a more “liberal” and inclusive polity where Malay political thought and
allegiance was more diverse which was wiped out by the racial political
narratives of Umno/BN.
If anything we are not changing but
returning and this is what scares the hell out of sycophants who view
political figures - especially those who revere Mahathir - as some sort
of talismanic touchstone for what is right about the power-sharing
concept in this country.
At this moment, the Malay establishment
is going through convulsions and as DAP strategist Liew rightly points
out, it is a moment of instability for the Malay uber alles coalition.
What he forgets to mention is that it is a moment of instability for
knows what kind of deals or stratagems the Malay branch of PKR is
coming up with and who knows the kind of political personalities that
Harapan would have to deal with if they want to “save Malaysia” again.
It is not that the DAP cannot work with political hegemons who use race
and religion, [it has] but because the DAP would rather focus on
personalities which it thinks would galvanise its base.
question remains, which fraction will the DAP align with in the ongoing
fall out. Of course, this is not up to the DAP. The only choice they
have to make is whether to work with political personalities that a
certain faction of the Malay establishment comes up with, in defiance of
the PN regime.
The reality is that eventually, the DAP is going
to have to attach itself to a political coalition if it wants to be part
of state or federal level governments. 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 were
part of the grand plan to save Malaysia.
As long as there is no
election, political players have the luxury of aligning with the lesser
of “evils” and recalibrate their messaging once an election is on the
table. You will hear arguments for political stability and unity amongst
strange political bedfellows and glorious visions of a new Malaysia or
is that a Newer Malaysia.
If, as Liew contends that Umno will
fracture, which side will the DAP collaborate with? Honestly, look at
how the situation was when PKR president Anwar Ibrahim was busy staging
his counter-coup which fizzled out.
The DAP was all over the
place and this added to the instability that the Malay establishment
craves when it comes to the racial politics of this country.
Would the DAP work with fractions within Umno who have split? Will the old maverick’s party do the same or will there be more sandiwara in
Harapan where nobody knows what the other is doing and hoping that the
implosion of PN somehow benefits their political fortunes.
Harapan ready for the coming storm but most importantly, what will be
the play of the DAP, when the battle lines are drawn in this uncivil
conflict within the Malay establishment?