Will the Penang DAP, or for that matter the DAP in its entirety, implode because of the decision to drop incumbents for the upcoming state elections in Penang and Selangor?
The situation seems more “explosive” in Penang compared to Selangor.
The party, after all, has ruled Penang since 2008 under first the Pakatan Rakyat banner, and later Pakatan Harapan.
As it seeks to continue its rule of Penang, the DAP, as we know, has decided to leave out notable incumbents, including deputy chief minister II P. Ramasamy and the party’s Women chief Chong Eng.
After serving several terms, the veteran leaders have an immense supporter base in the state. And as expected, their supporters are more than unhappy.
Satees Muniandy, the incumbent Bagan Dalam assemblyman, is one of those dropped.
His immediate response is to rubbish talks that the new line-up presented by the party is to give a chance to younger candidates – pointing out his own age. Satees is 38.
“There are candidates in the line-up who are 58 and 61 years old. And the party also said representatives who had served more than three terms would be dropped, but some of those included in the new list have served for six, seven terms,” he was quoted saying by Malaysiakini.
Ramasamy is also saying along the same line.
Said the 74-year-old academic turned politician: “A number of incumbents were dropped citing party rejuvenation, but the fact is many young candidates were dropped to be replaced by much older candidates.”
As I see it, if he is feeling bitter, it is understandable. He has served as state assemblyman for three terms since 2008, during which time he has served well and dished out a lot of good things for the people, the state, and the DAP of course.
Now Ramasamy cannot help but wonder if this is the same DAP he joined almost two decades ago.
Flashback a week earlier, he had defended the DAP which was accused by several former members of becoming another MCA, i.e. succumbing to a set of social political conditions in favor of the interests of the Malay majority once it became part of the federal government.
He had then said there was no basis to say that the DAP was becoming another MCA.
Such a description, said Ramasamy, might not be an accurate portrayal of the DAP given the fact the party has 40 seats in parliament, the largest bloc that supports the unity government.
And as he sees it, the unity government, a coalition of coalitions, would not necessarily exhibit the one-party dominance as was the case with the long years under BN’s rule.
“What you have here…is the existence of plurality of political interests,” said Ramasamy, as quoted by New Straits Times.
Anyway, back to the incumbents axed issue. Women chief Chong Eng has also expressed regret over the DAP decision to exclude her from the election line-up for the state polls. Understandable also.
However, the 66-year-old incumbent for Padang Lalang has urged voters to back Pakatan Harapan candidates in all six state elections come August 12.
And a point to note is that Chong Eng said it was group effort and the hard work of many people over the years for DAP, which is a part of Harapan, to reap the fruits today, and “we should continue to progress for the benefit of Malaysians made up of different ethic groups, men and women, young and old,” she said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Which brings me to an article written by an old friend Wan Hamidi Hamid when he was editor-in-chief of The Rocket, the official organ of the DAP.
The article was first published in the now defunct news portal The Malaysian Insider on April 8. 2014.
Yes, nine years on, the article entitled “DAP is not MCA 2.0” is very much relevant.
It was not about DAP being “tame and meek like the MCA” mentioned earlier. The article was about DAP being perceived as a “Chinese party” because of the many Chinese leaders and members in it, which Hamidi said it is not.
The real Chinese party in Malaysia, he said, is the MCA, a political entity which is open to the Chinese only.
The DAP, on the other hand, is a multiracial party “which fights for the rights of all Malaysians,” said Hamidi.
But for years the party has been vilified and falsely accused of being racist. And after more than 50 years being fed “by the lies it is not surprising some Malays believe it to be true,“ said Hamidi, going on to say that the Malays believe the DAP is a party that fights only for the Chinese.
“But it’s not only the Malays who believe it. Some Chinese believe it too. Apparently some of these Chinese actually joined DAP thinking that DAP is MCA 2.0, that is, an alternative party for the Chinese Malaysian.
“These people must have thought that since MCA had failed to help them, DAP should be the next best choice,” wrote Hamidi in his article.
However, said Hamidi, the problem with this line of thinking is that it is racial in nature and will only perpetuate segregation and racial hatred.
This is why Hamidi said it is important for “some” DAP leaders and members to realize that DAP is a party for all Malaysians and to really know its ideology.
“However, screaming about idealism without putting into practice those good, positive fundamental values does not mean much in real life,” said Hamidi.
Thus, he said when all DAP members are clear about it, then it will only be a matter of time they will work harder towards sharing the idea of DAP with all Malaysians regardless of gender, race or religion.
I say that remarks made in Apri 2014 somehow resonate with what Chong Eng said on July 26, 2023.
Back to the poser stated at the beginning of this article. Will DAP implode because of the election candidate issue?
I don’t think so. In fact, all parties have the same problem when drawing up their candidate list in every election.
There will always be party members who will not be happy. They be angry actually.
(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist and now a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)