October 27, 2012
1 candidate-1 seat: Reprising the arguments
by Terence Netto (10-26-12)@http://www.malaysiakini.com
COMMENT It appears the DAP has opted for a stance of prevarication on the issue of ‘one candidate, one seat’ which was the recommendation of its chairperson Karpal Singh some time ago.
Karpal’s suggestion wasn’t exactly aimed at paring down the threat of warlordism by state barons so much as augmenting the chances of election to the legislature of a wider array of the party’s members, the numbers of whom would inevitably rise as a result of the DAP’s success in administering Penang and the performance of its MPs in the federal legislature.
Karpal’s recommendation that the party adopt the one-candidate-one-seat policy for the 13th general election, with a justifiable exemption for secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, had all to do with increased opportunity and effective performance.
This was before the rise of warlordism in some sectors of the party, a phenomenon that, if not checked early, would harm the party down the road.
Judging from what DAP national vice-chairperson and Penang chief Chow Kon Yeow said in Penang two days ago, the party had already decided, in a lengthy discussion on the matter earlier this year, that it cannot place a blanket ban on dual representation as there may be exceptional circumstances in Sabah and Sarawak where a shortage of candidates may compel the doubling up of the available few for both state and parliamentary seats.
Fair enough. Sabah and Sarawak may present the party with exceptional conditions wherein a candidate may have to double up, but on the peninsula the situation, except for Johor where Dr Boo Cheng Hau is the odds-on favorite to add the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat to his Skudai state incumbency, is clear-cut: dual representation, safe for Lim, would be a cramp on the party rather than a catalyst for its expansion.
From what Chow said, proposals for dual representation would be decided on a case-by-case basis, which is as good as saying that there will be no hard and fast rule to decide who can and who cannot vie for dual representation.
This way of deciding a matter as critically important as dual representation, on the peninsula at least, opens the leadership to charges of favouritism and sundry other criticisms.
Better not to pretend there is a policy discouraging dual representation than to make a hash of its implementation.
Largest bloc of MPs
The virtue in a bar on dual representation, on the peninsula especially, is that it will inhibit the growth of territorial barons, or warlords, in the party.
Such a check is necessary for the racial diversification of the party’s membership that is Chinese-dominated and wanting to get away from that image.
Embryonic warlords in the party are all seen as Chinese chauvinists which is why a bar on dual representation, especially on the peninsula, would, besides enhancing representational effectiveness, enjoy the additional advantage of checking the power of self-aggrandising barons.
It is not improbable that among the opposition Pakatan Rakyat parties, the DAP would emerge as the component with the largest share of parliamentary seats when the results of the 13th general election are in.
This is certain to draw from Malay chauvinists the ‘I told you so’ warning that they have been striving, thus far without apparent success, to get across to the Malays – that division among them would engender Chinese economic power and political assertiveness. Grist for this fear mongering would be supplied by the presence in DAP of warlords.
Thus a bar on dual representation, especially on the peninsula, would be a preemptive move against the emergence of the bogeys that the Malaysian nation must free itself from if it is to emerge into a new era where the Gordian knot of race and religion no longer impose their stultifying constraints on the body politic.
There is an additional reason why the imposition of a bar on dual representation, on the peninsula particularly, would speed more than stymie the DAP.
Orthodox elements in PAS
It’s no longer wise to sustain the pretence that when and if Pakatan takes over Putrajaya, and in the event that the DAP has the largest bloc of MPs, it will just be a matter of time before the orthodox element in PAS would push for the implementation of syariah.
True, the item is not on Pakatan’s Common Policy Framework and cannot be implemented without consensus among the three parties that compose the present opposition front. Still, orthodox elements in PAS would push for it. Not to do so would be akin to wishing that rivers flow uphill.
DAP would not be able to depend on the Muslims of PKR to lead the reasoned effort at dissuading PAS from something that is not advisable for a multi-racial, multi-religious society.
Orthodox PAS would inevitably push; DAP would have to politely but firmly dissuade. That effort would be less arduous if the DAP does not have within its ranks warlords whose presence would stoke the bogeys in the Malay mind against which syariah implementation would be seen as a bulwark.