Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

DAP's Young Blood Can't Win the Country

Written by johnleemk on 3:26:23 pm Apr 19, 2007.

One of the Democratic Action Party's most promising new politicians, Tony Pua, recently published on his blog a compilation of some of the party's youngest and brightest faces. These are the people who most probably will take the helm after Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh fade away, presuming that Lim Guan Eng doesn't exile them from the party.

It is truly a credit to the DAP that they have been able to build a team of so many confident and intelligent young people, who will be most likely fronting the party's ticket for many elections to come.

The DAP is usually stereotyped as old, stale and unable to relate with younger voters. While I think this is so for any political party, especially in Malaysia, such criticisms have been especially hard for the DAP to dispel, due to their generally aging leadership.

Their most outspoken Members of Parliament remain Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh, who have both literally been around for decades. Playing second fiddle to them are slightly younger MPs like Chong Eng. At the bottom of the heap, but still very vocal are people like Teresa Kok and Fong Po Kuan.

If the DAP wants to appeal to voters, it has to get more young and fresh faces like Fong, Pua, et al aboard. To this extent, the party has succeeded dramatically.

The DAP has even been the most enthusiastic party about adopting media that appeal mainly to the young, such as blogging. I think almost all the DAP MPs, and many non-MPs, have a blog. (Although only a handful are updated on a regular basis.)

Just as impressively, most of these people are intelligent, and know their stuff. The few of them that I have met, such as Tony and the DAP election strategist Liew Chin Tong, have all impressed me with their obvious ability.

But what truly troubles me is that all of this may yet come to nought. The reason is simple: every one of these fresh faces is yellow. Or, to be slightly less politically incorrect, all of the DAP's young blood is Chinese.

If the DAP wants to be a Chinese party, if all it wants is to appeal to the Chinese vote, this would not be an issue. But that is not the stated aim of the DAP. The DAP wants to be a multiracial party, one that fights for all Malaysians and all communities.

And in this regard, it is failing dramatically. If it cannot attract a single non-Chinese face, if it cannot even get one young and articulate Indian (let alone Malay) to join the ranks of its frontline fight, it is as good as dead when you consider the multiracial composition of the country.

There are about 26 million Malaysians. About 55% (let's say) are Malay. That works out to about 14 million Malaysians who are Malay. Throwing out those who are too old or too young to enter politics, that still leaves us with about 8 to 10 million. Don't tell me a single one of these people can't or won't fight for what the DAP stands for.

So why the void? Tony Pua has correctly noted that in the last general election, the DAP ran several Malay candidates, all of whom were defeated. But conspicuously, this gallery of probable young candidates for the next election are all...Chinese.

There has to be a way to get more non-Chinese at the forefront of the party. And I have an idea of how to go about doing this; I think I have mentioned it before, but it's an idea worth going into greater detail in another article. But whatever the solutions are, the problem is clear: finding more non-Chinese who can take the reins of the DAP.

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