May 16, 2012
Point of No Return for Tunku Aziz
By Joceline Tan
Tunku Aziz Ibrahim’s live TV resignation’ from the DAP will damage the party’s image among thinking Malays.
THE persecution of Tunku Aziz Ibrahim has begun in earnest on the Internet. The former DAP vice-chairman was hailed as a hero by Pakatan Rakyat supporters when he joined DAP in 2008. Today the same people are vilifying him on pro-Pakatan news portals, criticising his decision and calling him all sorts of names.
Politics is a cruel game but the anonymity afforded by the Internet makes ordinary people even more cruel and ruthless than politicians. The irony of it all is that some of the kindest comments made to Tunku Aziz have actually come from people within the DAP.
A top-ranking leader from Penang not Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng texed him minutes after his “live TV resignation” to commiserate and to wish him all the best.
Some of the DAP politicians who have seen him up close say that he is a principled man, he speaks like a gentleman and carries himself with dignity. They do not share his views on BERSIH but they respect him and are sad to see him go this way.
Selangor DAP leader Datuk Teng Chang Khim tweeted to critics of Tunku Aziz to “be passionate but do not get fever”. What he meant was that they should not go overboard in their zeal to condemn the man. Teng, who is also the state assembly speaker, was quite appalled at the name-calling that he saw on an established news portal and told a friend that, “I despise those who condemn him (Tunku Aziz) this way.”
Party adviser Lim Kit Siang, who often comes across as incapable of emotion, actually tweeted that he was “heartbroken” and thanked Tunku Aziz for his time in DAP.
Tunku Aziz caused ripples when he joined DAP but his shock exit is making waves although not everyone in the party is surprised. Very few people in DAP could visualise him continuing in the party after the very public fallout with their powerful secretary-general.
Guan Eng does not like to be contradicted and those who take him on find themselves isolated and struggle to survive in the party.But the question being asked is: What will be the impact of his resignation on the DAP? The folk in DAP are confident that it will have little consequence on their traditional Chinese base. The present political mood for the party is strong enough for it to weather the impact.
Their concern is the impact among the Malays, especially the thinking Malays. Many Malays were incredulous that someone of Tunku Aziz’s stature would join a party which had championed Chinese education and opposed the NEP – issues that struck at the core of Malay nationalist interests.This same group of Malays are probably telling each other now that they knew it would be a short-lived love affair.
The resignation will hurt DAP and its Pakatan partners where it matters most – the Malay fence-sitters, the group that will decide who forms the government after the next general election.
Tunku Aziz is merely going the way of other independent personalities like Dr Kua Kia Soong and Dr Lee Ban Chen who had joined DAP with rose-tinted glasses, found that they could not fit in with the yes-man culture and quit.
Guan Eng was reported in Roketkini, the party’s Malay mouthpiece, as saying that he wants to persuade Tunku Aziz to rethink his quit decision and stay on as Vice-Chairman of the party. It is rather too late in the day. Tunku Aziz’s dismay with Guan Eng was not just solely about being publicly rebuked over the BERSIH matter.
He had seen Guan Eng in action at meetings, the way he treated senior figures in the party like Karpal Singh and how thin-skinned he is about opposition to his decisions. It is a side of Guan Eng that people outside do not see and let’s just say that Tunku Aziz has been less than impressed by what he has seen.
If Guan Eng was sincere, he would have endeavoured to meet the older man much earlier. Instead, he sent his henchman Zairil Khir Johari to offer Tunku Aziz a position in the Penang Institute think-tank that comes with a stipend of RM50,000 a year plus travel perks.
It was the ultimate insult to Tunku Aziz who had thought to himself: “Is that how they rate me?” Tunku Aziz is an old-world gentleman who is often rather understated in his words and action.
The fact that he chose to announce his resignation on a live TV talk-show showed he had reached a point of no return with the DAP. The Tunku has crossed the Rubicon or to quote the man himself: “It’s sayonara forever.”