Tunku Aziz’s Resignation will hardly make a dent to DAP’s image
by Moaz Nair @www.malaysia-chronicle.com
“Given the paucity of good and decent leaders, it is understandable that a party like the DAP locks on to the one or two who appear on its radar. With his meticulously manicured image as the evangelist for transparency and good governance, former party Vice-Chairperson Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim was a prime catch for many reasons: Malay, well-schooled, a politically-useful personal branding and the requisite gravitas.In short, a very attractive package, which, as revealed by the turn of events, has proved to be too good to be true.
The lesson here is simple: if you do not take the time to perform due diligence, to really scrutinise the package that appears at your doorstep, you will spend time on damage control… after it explodes the way this has.
Going by all that has been reportedly said by Tunku Aziz, the nature and timing of his appearance, his obviously planned exit and the delivery of his final ‘support Najib’ thrust between the shoulder blades of his erstwhile comrades, this was a human IED (improvised explosive device), set to go off to cause maximum harm. Caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware)”.–A Reader on Malaysiakini
DAP does not stand alone in Opposition politics in the country. It is part and parcel of a Malay-dominated Pakatan Rakyat where PAS and PKR are crucial members. DAP works with PAS and PKR to ensure that the two-party system in the country can become a reality.
Tunku Abdul Aziz joined the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in August 2008, citing shared “values and ideals” with the party. His many anti-corruption initiatives made him a popular figure locally and internationally. He was appointed national Vice-Chairman of DAP and in July 2009 he was made a senator in the Dewan Negara, representing the state of Penang.
Go like a gentleman
In May 2012, Tunku Aziz broke the ranks with DAP when he spoke out against the BERSIH 3.0 rally in public citing that the event encouraged Malaysians to break the law. He also criticised rally organisers for allowing the Opposition coalition to “hijack” its agenda. He later indicated on national television his desire to resign from the party, citing irreconcilable differences.
With due respects to Tunku, if he decides to leave the DAP he had chosen he should go like a gentleman to reflect his personality as a statesman. As a patrcian, he should leave in a magnanimous manner. Seeking space in the mainstream media to denounce DAP after enjoying the “fruits” in the party does not reflect well on Tunku.
His public tirade and personal accusations against DAP are inappropriate, to say the least. In party politics one cannot choose not to toe collective party decision. It was on this ground that Tunku was rightly rebuked over the BERSIH 3.0 issue by DAP Secretary-General for not toeing party decision and making his own opinion heard in public. This sort of reproach, in fact, is nothing unusual in party politics.
Hitting brick walls and stone faces
A politician who cannot accept criticism might as well quit politics. Politics is not a profession for those who are timorous, and sensitive to criticism. Politics is a game for tough minds. To seasoned politicians ,criticism becomes a matter of hitting brick walls and stone faces. They do not easily succumb to reproach or for that matter decide to quit on the slightest pretext.
Without this staying power and the ability to deflect criticism with panache one should not be in politics. An aristocrat, just like an intellectual, more often than not does not make good politician. They customarily expect unequivocal respect from the people thinking that they are a notch above the rest and just detest the idea of being disparaged. An intellectual, alas, lives in his perfectionist world when politics cannot be an art of perfection in the eyes of the ordinary people.
Tunku is probably one of the many intellectuals who have contributed to the scholarly world. He has written and expressed himself well internationally. But to the ordinary people out there he is still a stranger in politics. He may fit well in the academia with his lofty philosophies. His thoughts and ideas are worth debating in academic seminars but he cannot reach the majority grassroots whose hopes in life are mundane things such as food on the table, decent education, jobs and shelter.
Cordiality displayed by DAP
However, since Tunku personally decided to join politics and chose DAP as his elevated platform, he should now not be apologetic. His decision then must be based on his intellectual epitome and discretion without being coaxed or coerced by anyone of lesser wits than him.
Tunku, being a Malay and highly intellectual, was appointed Vice-Chairman and the first DAP nominated senator from Penang. No senior DAP members exhibited any grouse against these appointments though Tunku was very much junior in terms of party membership. Such was the cordiality displayed by DAP members when they accepted him into their fold.
If Tunku feels that it was a wrong move on his self to join politics, and for that matter DAP, then his integrity as an intellectual could be questioned. He must have made the decision to resign from DAP based on his emotional quotient, not his intellectual acumen. Having just a minor tiff with a DAP leader cannot be a valid reason for him to leave DAP since the party is bigger than any single leader.
Does not reflect well on him
Why the sudden dislike for DAP now after being in the party for four years and given all the privileges to hold a high party post and be a Senator? This emotional reaction by an erudite Tunku does not reflect well on him.
His criticism of BERSIH3.0 protest held late April did draw some flak from party members as it is a norm in any political organisation. According to political observers, Tunku’s criticism has been found wanting; futhermore, it should not have been done too overtly. Nevertheless, in Tunku’s case, no disciplinary action was taken against him.
If political wisdom had prevailed in him, he could have at least discussed his displeasure over the BERSIH 3.0 issue within the party before making any public statement. But if any remarks made by DAP leaders that Tunku Aziz should have toed the party line had offended him, he cannot become a worthy party member.Criticism or censure is part of the territory of party politics.
Politics is for those with a tough mind. Those with a weak mind or are too emotional have no place in politics.
Those who want to be too idealistic or too rational in their approach cannot survive the usual robust and often unfair games in politics. Many intellectuals who have been too idealistic in their approach to politics have failed as the rough- and-tumble in politics is not their cup of tea.
He was never a politician
Tunku may be an intellectual but most political observers describe him as more of an arm-chair politician. He suits more to be part of the think-tank of a political party but not the down-to-earth politics. To the grassroots he was never a politician and being set in his aristocratic ways, he can never be.
His ideals expressed in many of his intellectual discourse – spoken and written – are for the intellectual dreamers, but most of which cannot be put into practice. Politics to the grassroots is not a sophisticated ideology. It is more of the ordinary people’s hopes and aspirations for a better life. For this reason, Tunku cannot be a politician.
Lofty ideas that are of seminar substance will find hard to trickle down into the political realm of the ordinary people. It is for this reason that not many intellectuals have made it in politics. Unlike Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, Tunku Aziz is too distant and aloof to connect with ordinary people.
Many other Malay intellectuals in DAP
When Tunku decided to join DAP, the mood was different. He was regarded with contempt by DAP adversaries, especially those in UMNO, but he was well received by DAP members. It was a kind of boost for DAP to have Tunku in its fold at the beginning.
Later on, this euphoria faded away after many other prominent Malays and former UMNO members joined DAP. At present, there are many other Malay intellectuals in DAP who able to reach the grassroots to explain the reality of Malaysian politics today – specifically the need for a two-party system.
These Malays see DAP as platform that could be used to promote the idea of social justice for all Malaysians. The Tunku’s role was diminished and many within DAP began to doubt his effectiveness as a party leader and Senator for Penang.
DAP’s image still strong
There are clear limits in party politics. Of paramount importance is one’s adherence to party policy. Party leaders and members may have their opinions but ultimately it is collective party decision that must prevail. If Tunku cannot subscribe to this basic principle he should resign without rancour.
Tunku’s decision to quit the party, after a brief four years as a member will not cause any dent to DAP’s public image. This is only a minor hiccup for the party. DAP’s image is bigger than any single individual, even if that person is the Secretary-General is of the party.
“Tunku’s departure from DAP will not dent DAP’s or Pakatan’s hope of forming the next government,” said a political analyst from a local university.