DAP’s Dominance, Pakatan’s Downfall?

May 15, 2016

DAP’s Dominance, Pakatan’s Downfall?

Opposition parties must form a real coalition, not an electoral alliance, and moderate their positions.


By William Leong Jee Keen


AP needs to be sensitive that expansion by them, their ascendancy and assertiveness is seen as dominance in Pakatan. It validates UMNO’s rhetoric that Pakatan Malay leaders are DAP puppets who have sold out to the Chinese. PKR and PAS leaders’ credibility before Malay eyes are severely and irreparably damaged. DAP’s victories sow the seeds of Pakatan’s defeat.–William Leong

The opposition has failed to offer Sarawakians a viable alternative government for voters to choose. The essential requirements for a coalition government – wisdom, humility, patience, willingness to compromise, cooperation and teamwork – were clearly lacking in the opposition leadership and their rank and file.

Pakatan Rakyat in 2008

Pakatan Harapan –2016

Although DAP, PKR and Amanah profess to be multiracial, each party’s concept and strategy are different. As the Malay proverb says “tidur sebantal tetapi mimpi lain-lain.” If Pakatan Harapan is to become a viable alternative government, the parties must reach consensus on the approach to end racial politics. Failure is not an option. If they cannot do this, it is better for each to go their separate ways for the 14th General Election.

Anwar --The Prisoner

UMNO put him in jail and ended hope of an Alternative Government

Opposition parties have tried and failed to form a coalition many times before. Pakatan Harapan is destined to join the list of failures unless the parties are able to agree upon, implement and assure voters it has a model, strategy and road map for ending racial politics.

It must be a model that can integrate and accommodate the different ethnic groups and religions. It must allay their collective fears for change in the future brought upon by living through the history of the past. Pakatan Rakyat before this and Pakatan Harapan until now have failed to do this.

The opposition must recognise that they will need to bring their policies towards the centre avoiding extreme positions that appeal to their own supporters but offending others. They must accept a model for bringing the voters to support the cause, moderate their policies and tamper their rhetoric. They must have the humility to accept that their party might not be the dominant partner or its leader the supreme commander or prime minister-designate. They need to cooperate: there is no room for prima donnas.

Negotiating as an electoral alliance

Seat allocations for elections must be negotiated as an electoral alliance not as a political coalition. An electoral alliance ensures a straight fight between the opposition and the ruling party. There is no need to agree on policies and government positions: if the electoral alliance wins, they may or may not form a government between themselves. It is possible that one or more of them may instead put their lot with the ruling party to form the government. This is what PAS said they will do in the 14GE.

The party the most seats gets to rule: each opposition party thus jockeys for winnable seats, seeking dominance in political appointments, and the main cause of the lack of cooperation among Pakatan parties. This negotiation system is a model for self-destruction.

It is better for Pakatan to negotiate seat allocations, ministerial positions and resolve policy differences now, rather than wait until elections are called.

Agree on a political coalition before elections, not only on seats but also the policies and administration of the government if it wins, with a prior agreement on the post of the prime minister, the cabinet, the chief minister and executive council members, allocation of government positions and including GLC directorships.

If the coalition wins and one of the parties fail to win its allocation of seats or even one single seat, the power-sharing agreement is nevertheless put into effect. This ensures unity, mutual assistance and support for each party by the others in the coalition.

Governing a plural society

Pakatan must adopt a suitable model for the government of a plural society. UMNO, as an ethnic party supported by the majority ethnic group, can dominate minority groups seemingly in perpetuity. In Malaysia, access to resources lies in the heart of the inter-ethnic tensions. The ethnic group that controls political power gain access to these goods and resources. In a multi-ethnic society such as ours the struggle to control state policy produces the competing ethnic interest.

It is therefore imperative that Pakatan Harapan is able to present its vision for interethnic political conciliation.It is a simplistic and wrong to believe that racial politics will be ended by a Pakatan grand coalition replacing the BN grand coalition, PKR and PAS replacing UMNO and DAP replacing MCA, Gerakan, MIC and the others.

The model of the BN grand coalition has failed Malaysia. UMNO enjoys dominance and control of BN. The other parties have no influence.

PKR believes that the best way to mitigate the destructive patterns of a divided society is not to encourage the formation of ethnic political parties or to replicate existing ethnic divisions but to depoliticise ethnicity by requiring politicians and their supporters to accommodate each ethnic group, to seek support from across the ethnic divide and making voters based their choice on issues other than ethnicity.

Politicians from multi-ethnic parties make cross-ethnic appeals and demonstrate their capacity to represent groups besides their own. PKR leaders and representatives have proven their ability to reach out and attract votes from all ethnic groups besides their own, to moderate their political rhetoric on potentially divisive issues and have learned to broaden their policy positions to make cross-ethnic appeals.

Anwar Ibrahim has called out for the party and Pakatan to persevere with the centripetalist model. He knows it works. In 2008, Anwar Ibrahim was able to take Lim Guan Eng into the kampongs and Malay majority constituencies to hold him out as a chief minister who can take care of Malay interest as well as Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Dayak and all Malaysians.

To end racial politics Pakatan must adopt centripetalism and reject the grand coalition of ethnic parties. DAP is in substance a Chinese-based party expanding into mixed non-Malay seats. By taking away the non-Malay seats from PKR and Amanah, their essential nature of being multi-racial parties is eroded.

DAP’s demand, in effect, is for these parties to cede their non-Malayseats, consequently their non-Malay leadership, electedrepresentatives, members and support base to DAP.

DAP is pushing PKR and Amanah into becoming Malay political parties. By doing so, DAP is pushing Pakatan into adopting the failed BN model. All seats across the board should be allocated to each of the three parties equally, subject to the peculiar demographics of the states and constituencies. This means PKR and Amanah must also be allocated Chinese-majority seats and DAP Malay-majority seats, each party allocated both urban and rural seats.

In this way the component parties must move their policies from the extreme to the centre and their leadership and grass roots shift their rhetoric from intemperance to moderation.

Leadership and dominance

Without being disrespectful to the leadership and capabilities of Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng and all DAP leaders and members, the sad but undeniable truth is that the road to end racial politics, no matter how one tries to twist and turn, must pass through the gates of the 60 percent Malay-Muslim majority holding the key to 114 parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia.

Gerrymandering and malapportionment will always be there. We have to take this in our stride in the fight against racial politics and an authoritarian regime. Only a Malay-Muslim majority political party which espouses moderation, equality and multi-ethnicity can take us there.

UMNO is well aware of this and have placed great emphasis to remind Malays on the need for Malay unity to protect their race, religion and culture. To maintain their hold on Malay support, Malay leaders who dare to join multi-ethnic political parties are cut-off from the community, turned into outcasts, persecuted, imprisoned and discredited.

UMNO did this to Dato Onn Jaffar, have done this to Anwar Ibrahim and will do this to the young Malay leaders, activists, academicians and student leaders. The price extracted on Malays who choose multi-ethnicity and equity is a high one.

Anwar Ibrahim has broken this psychological chain used to tie the Malays to Umno by paying the heavy price of being persecuted, loss of personal liberty and physical well-being. This precious prize so dearly won must be fully capitalised upon by Pakatan.

UMNO has tarred and feathered DAP as the bogeyman for Malays. Unfortunately, ill-advised or instinctive responses to Umno provocation, occasional slips of the tongue by DAP leaders and insensitive statements by overzealous grassroot leaders serve to validate Umno’s claims.

Although DAP seeks to address this stigma by appointing Malay leaders and having elected representatives, it is an uphill task. There is no chance of winning Malay hearts and minds if one cannot even get past the door.

DAP needs to be sensitive that expansion by them, their ascendancy and assertiveness is seen as dominance in Pakatan. It validates UMNO’s rhetoric that Pakatan Malay leaders are DAP puppets who have sold out to the Chinese. PKR and PAS leaders’ credibility before Malay eyes are severely and irreparably damaged. DAP’s victories sow the seeds of Pakatan’s defeat.

This is attested by the 13th General Elections. DAP won all the Chinese-majority seats. UMNO won 83.5 percent of rural seats, containing 73.76 percent of rural Malay votes. PKR and PAS bore the brunt of UMNO’s resurgence.

Malays saw the ascendancy of DAP as a challenge to Malay supremacy. Malays fearful of DAP’s agenda as told by Umno returned to UMNO’s fold. Voting for the other Malay based parties, PAS and PKR was not an option, because they are part of Pakatan and a vote for Pakatan is a vote for DAP.

UMNO’s racial rhetoric struck the right chord with the Malays.Irrational as it may sound the fear of Chinese domination and the Malay race disappearing from the face of the earth saw Malays voting to maintain Ketuanan Melayu despite UMNO’s record of financial scandals, poor governance and corruption. Fear after all, is never rational.

For the 14 GE, Hadi Awang, recognising this, steered PAS out of Pakatan to work with UMNO. PKR and Amanah have kept the faith. They are however, painfully aware that unless fundamental changes are made in Pakatan to attract Malay votes, DAP’s ascendancy hangs like an albatross over their heads to win Malay support.

DAP can win all the non-Malay majority seats but these are not enough to form the government. By achieving dominance in Pakatan Harapan, the DAP is winning the battle but Pakatan will lose the war. The racial tensions and ugly reality of our ethnic divisions must be dealt with in a practical manner, otherwise the cracks in Pakatan may lead to permanent fissure.

Failure to learn from victories will lead to defeat, failure to learn from defeat will lead to destruction.

6 thoughts on “DAP’s Dominance, Pakatan’s Downfall?

  1. DAP, Keadilan .. could win when there is term limit and transparency within its’ own party elections. When system is fair, leaders and patriots will appear.

  2. Wan Azizah remaining as president or Nurul Izzah replacing her instead is neither a solution nor a prospective pointer for a galvanised PKR to chisel away BN’s well oiled and well bribed all round ground and many upper layer support.

    If defence deals alleged corruption, Mongolian woman’s murder, recruited Saiful’s behind-the-scene power orchestrated sodomy charge and conviction of Anwar and millions, if not billions going into the private account and such other things could not cause a nary damage to Najib’s total grip on power, how could an Azmin led PKR in consort with PAS ever cause a dent on Najib or his BN?

    The only party in Malaysia with conviction, strengh, wherewithal and commitment to unified progress, unfortunately, is DAP and Penang is a trend setter. If the DAP plays its cards well it can in time to come be in position to provide an alternative government to BN. The Party does not need PKR and PAS. But it needs to become less Chinese and more Malay. It should entice more prominent Malay figures like Nurul Izzah , Marina Mahathir, Zainah Anwar, Zaid Ibrahim, Mukhriz Mahathir, Professionals, Academics and credible Islamic scholars to join the party. It must strive to have a membersip base of at least 30 to 40% Malays. This proportion shoud also be reflected in the CEC and various other party committes established. With a visible enlargement of the Malay profile, the DAP along with its partner Amanah should tie up with one or two principled parties in Sabah and Sarawak to take on the BN at the next GE. It is definitely going to pay rich dividends for sure.

    The DAP should be realistic enough to realise that with Najib gone, things would not be any easier. The next PM to be is more formidable than Najib. He is from Sabah and his State and Sarawak will be fully behind him. He has wide support within UMNO. More importantly he is the Home Minister. He has a good read of the political pulse and can make things happen.

    As for Anwar, his political life is over. The last time Obama was here he was reported to have conveyed America’s wish for Anwar to be released to Najib. The US, EU and UK should be persuaded once again to put pressure on Malaysia for Anwar’s release. The DAP should put Anwar’s release on its manifesto for the next GE. Anwar should take a sabbatical abroad for 1-2 years and return thereafter to lead an apolitical life.

    Under prevailing conditions there is no alternative to DAP led well chosen alliance to take on UMNO and BN.

  3. “The next PM to be is more formidable than Najib. He is from Sabah and his State and Sarawak will be fully behind him. He has wide support within UMNO. More importantly he is the Home Minister.” Hawking

    Pray tell, who is this so-called ‘Home Minister’? Confused?

    If you are talking about ‘Java Zahid the Fluke’ – he is from Bagan Datoh, Perak. He is worse than Jibros in many ways and severely lacking in ‘what-counts’ supratentorially – although he has UMNOb grassroots underfoot. Even his attempts at portraying ‘statesmanship’ fail to impress cretinous canines like me.

    UMNOb suffers from a deficit of leadership, severe trust deficit among the ‘intelligentsia’ and therefore behaves like a piece of turd stuck on the sole of Malaysia’s shoe. But they don’t care. Their audience just wanna be ‘Entitled’ and Rent-Seeking-In_Perpetuity. You just can’t get rid of the smell, no matter where one goes.

    Unfortunately, the nasty bickering between the chauvinistic, arrogant DAP and confused, nihilistic PKR just wastes time, energy, goodwill and dashes all hope of a reconciliatory, inclusive, participatory form of politics:
    “Paralysed force, gesture without motion.” The Hollow Men (T.S. Eliot)

    Therefore, i’m half the mind to forget these blokes and become a Hollow Man, and “Behave as the Wind Behaves, No Nearer”

  4. There is no way “Pakatan”, “Harapan” or any number of incarnations of coalition of opposition parties could ever be a mirror image of Barisan Nasional with one dominant party, UMNO, calling all the shots. Perhaps of late DAP wanted to try and thus we see the disastrous consequences. For a time when Anwar Ibrahim was leading it everyone even DAP fell in line and there was hope, but UMNO saw that and Sodomy 2 or something else had to happen. It was do or die for UMNO / BN then.

    National politics in Malaysia started on a communal footing and then entrenched after decades of reinforcement by UMNO. Sadly it will always be this way for a long long time to come if not forever.

    Even if DAP has a 50% Malay membership, or likewise PKR has a 50% non-Malay membership, the public, especially the majority Malays’, perception will always be skewed.

    So any opposition coalitions can only be marriages of convenience. Can’t be helped. The question is whether the voting public could live with such a coalition replacing UMNO / BN.

  5. Between Hawking Eye’s wishful thinking of DAP organic growth for 30-40 percent Malay membership and William Leong’s “appeal” to DAP leadeship’s sense and sensibilities in electoral politics lies the crux of Pakatan Harapan’s dilemma. It belies the complexities of moving away from ethnic politics amidst the vested interest of communal politics. It is already a long and drawn out transition for a change of government and will continue to be so. I hazard to say it will take at least 2 generations from now as the millenials absorb the political awareness and the opportunity cost of not changing the status quo. The implied impetus for this shift must come from the enlightened Malays and its critical mass. And they will only see the light once there is an indelible sense of economic security without which they will continue to fall prey to communal politics. This means as always the devils are in the details. Like it or not a clear cut path has to be worked out now not later as concluded by the author.

  6. “If the DAP plays its cards well it can in time to come be in position to provide an alternative government to BN. The Party does not need PKR and PAS. But it needs to become less Chinese and more Malay. It should entice….”

    Entice ? Oh lordy, now I recall why I abandoned the DAP. Remember the DAP elections ? They could not even muster enough of their own folk who actually believed the kool aid they are dispensing and legitimately vote in Malay proxies.

    Seriously folks, the DAP has no principles beyond sustaining momentum in the Chinese community by feeding them delusions of Harry’s Paradise in waiting, stereotyping the Malay community by dividing them along UMNO /non UMNO lines and recently kneeling before the Evangelical God.

    This is the alternative to BN ?

    DAP does not need to become less Chinese or more Malay, it needs to address the fact that it thinks this way ? It needs to address the fact that the crypto racists and race hustlers dominate their discourse. It needs to address the fact of the corruption in their own ranks, said corruption sanctioned by UMNOb and promulgated by their own cadres .

    But whatever , as long as UMNOb continues to be the thieving Regime it is, all sins pale in comparison. If I can stomach Octo, I think I can stomach ethnocrats masquerading as liberal saviours.

    Just don’t drink the kool aid, my brothers and sisters.

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