YOURSAY | DAP's dilemma in operating in a communal political system


10 Jan 2021, 11:32 malam

Updated a year ago


YOURSAY | 'DAP has always had, and will always have, a huge problem breaking out of that bind.'

Book launch not an event to topple the Lims – Liu

Bewise: This has always been a "war" between the Chinese-educated ‘chauvinist’ leaders like Ronnie Liu and co, and the English-educated ‘progressives’ like the Lims (Kit Siang and Guan Eng), Liew Chin Tong, Tony Pua, Ong Kian Ming, Hannah Yeoh and Yeo Bee Yin.

From what I have observed, it has always been the progressives who have been in the front line. Who needs people in the background, safe but discontented and always complaining?

DAP is where it is today to the credit of the Lims and the progressives. Please give credit where it is due.

Hang Babeuf: True, there are still a lot of so-called Chinese “chauvinists” - too many of them - in the DAP.

But the basic truth of the situation is, as political analyst Wong Chin Huat succinctly puts it, that: “From a Malay nationalist perspective, calling for equal citizenship - a Malaysian Malaysia - is already chauvinist."

Where the basic logic of the political system, its structure and process, is "communal”/ethnic/racial, the DAP has always had and will always have a huge problem breaking out of that bind, escaping that stranglehold and prejudicial perception and typification.

But how did this kind of political system evolve and persist?

Pre-Merdeka Malayan politics for the early Kuala Lumpur municipal elections were very ad hoc, pragmatic, conducted not by parties but by narrowly ethnic interest and business associations.

How did this system survive after 1957? Merdeka, 1957, was supposed to be a decisive turning point, a break from the past.

The Merdeka negotiations and their embodiment in the nation’s one-and-only-ever "social contract", namely the original Federal Constitution, was supposed to overcome all that, to affect that break.

It provided an agreed set of principles and arrangements whereby, so it was intended, within a generation all the country’s children would jointly become stakeholder-citizens of full standing in the new nation - regardless of, and overriding the various different pathways, by which, with their different ancestral histories, they had come into membership in the nation.

All those involved solemnly agreed with and subscribed to this founding commitment - including, notably and primarily, Umno on behalf of the new nation’s Malay people.

But that agreed process of creating unified Malaysian citizenship (and nation), encompassing citizens of differing cultural and historical origins, was resisted, frustrated, opposed, and blocked - increasingly by an Umno that was becoming ever more fearful of PAS as a keen rival for Malay votes.

The whole Singapore-in-Malaysia experience (1963-1965) was decisive in generating this distrust of and stereotype about the DAP as a Chinese sectarian and “chauvinist” party. The aftermath of that era was the build-up, with all its tensions, towards May 1969.

Out of which came a new political "formula" and direction: one that invoked Malay economic “backwardness” or disadvantage and marginalisation as the rationale and justification for Malay political ascendancy and domination; that saw the NEP (New Economic Policy) as the necessary means or enabling instrument for overcoming (aggregate individual/personal) social and economic inequality, now "re-packaged" as collective ethnic political disadvantage and exclusion.

Political domination was now to guarantee the remedy of all these ills. Originally, the NEP, meaning the expedited achievement of is goals, was the guiding objective, and a strong Malay-led government was deemed the necessary means or instrument toward that end. But after 1990, a subtle shift, a deft reversal, was effected.

The principal objective was now a continuing and permanent Malay-dominated government, and the need to preserve and further project NEP-type thinking and policies - the political "clout" of the "NEP mindset" - became the reason or rationale, the tacit pretext, for its prospectively endless extension.

The means and the end had exchanged roles and their political priority.

In that process, the full meaning and memory of the 1957 Federal Constitution and its guiding principles were lost, forgotten and suppressed.

Its guiding ideas were further overshadowed and sidelined by the devising and proclamation, without any full and proper constitutional process, of the vague and malleable Rukun Negara - which provided and came to serve as a way of putting aside the original constitutional principles and agreements.

A new future direction was being shaped, made possible. One in which considerations less in standing than founding constitutional principles would be called upon and allowed incrementally to override the Constitution, its solemn founding meaning and purposes.

Then, as the 1990 deadline for the NEP to complete its work as the promised remedy for Malay economic disadvantage began to approach in adverse economic times, panic set in. What to do?

After failed national economic congresses and the like, Abdullah Ahmad stepped forward in Singapore in 1986 with his "Ketuanan Melayu" doctrine and dogma, his fiction - his tricky “retrofitting” of the idea of Malay Supremacy or Ascendancy into the 1957 Federal Constitutional settlement (of which it had never been any part) as its key idea and supposedly as the social contract.

This revisionist exercise, the illicit implanting of post-1969 dogma (and then post-1990 Malay political demands) into the 1957 Federal Constitution, was a fraud and a hoax.

It is the "Piltdown Man” of Malaysian political history and constitutional evolution. It is an attempt to provide a so-called “missing link” that some people, for their own political reasons, think needs to be there but never existed.

It was an attempt to create a different, preferred history that never occurred - essentially, a Malay "fairy tale" story - for the history that in fact happened and was enshrined from the outset in the Federal Constitution. It is simply bogus. A fiction.

That fiction provides and defines the political terrain on which the DAP must now operate.

But in the face of that adverse situation, the DAP must not simply shrug its shoulders; it cannot be content simply to retreat into maudlin "apologetics" or resentful recriminations; or claim lazily that, having no other option, it can only submit to the supposedly inevitable.

Instead, it must think hard, make a determined effort to seek and devise ways, in which - by its own efforts - it can transform that situation. Make it a better one for it to operate in, successfully.

Complaining about others, blaming others, will do no good. The DAP must work out what it can do to change that status quo, the current political terrain, by its own efforts. To begin to create for itself the conditions for its own effectiveness, and to deny those same kinds of advantage to its adversary parties in the "permanent government".

When it has worked out on how to do that, when it has begun to provide itself with that kind of enabling power and politically transformative potential, it will finally have begun to become a truly national political party.

And remember, it is no good wanting or "willing the end" if you are not prepared to "will" and commit yourselves to the necessary means to accomplish it. No easy short cuts. No cop-outs. Face up to things, squarely and bravely. And do, always in a principled way, what needs to be done.

BluePanther4725: Both the Lims – DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng - have done great service to the DAP and their efforts and sacrifices are appreciated and will never be forgotten.

Every political party needs fresh talents to rejuvenate and carry on. Therefore, the DAP should scout for young talents and create opportunities for them to lead.

Let the old guards and the young leaders in DAP work together to lead DAP and win as many seats as possible in the Parliament and ensure that democracy prevails.

ProMalaysia: Yes, DAP scored the best result in the 14th general election and became part of the federal government and state governments of Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Kedah for the first time ever, as well as re-winning the state governments of Penang, Selangor and Perak.

Why are all these noises now about toppling the Lims when they have contributed so much to the party and country? Are all these noises part of the "sponsored" Trojan horses trying to destroy the party from within?

What has DAP veteran Liew Ah Kim contributed all these years and why are the Trojan horses given so much credit?

Ace: Indeed, the Lims have contributed so much over the years and can still contribute more. Let them lead the party into the next election, but perhaps they should make that their last.

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