Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Multicoloured Blood for the DAP

Written by johnleemk on 10:00:10 am Apr 20, 2007.

The problem with the Democratic Action Party's new generation is clear. There are simply not enough (to be precise, zero) non-Chinese in it. So what is the solution to making this group more plural?

To start with, the onus is not on Malays to join the DAP. The onus is on the DAP to persuade Malays to join its cause. One very effective way to do this would be to get a couple of Malay MPs from the DAP ticket.

I believe this would go a long way towards dispelling conceptions of the DAP as a Chinese or non-Malay party. For too long, the party has been in the shadow of the tragic incidents of 13 May 1969, when racial rioting broke out after a response to the communalist victory rallies of the DAP got out of hand.

The party's actions in the run-up to May 13 basically assured that it would be a scapegoat for Chinese racial issues, and the party still has not done much to tackle this problem.

Ironically, the main root of this conundrum is that the DAP has been more and more dominated by the Chinese, who thus naturally push Chinese issues to the forefront, and unintentionally cement the party's image as that of a Chinese party.

So what is the solution? The solution has to be a concerted effort to push bright non-Chinese, especially Malays, towards the front of the party's struggle. It reeks of affirmative action, but the effects of having a Malay from the DAP speaking out in Parliament are, I believe, unquantifiable.

It would certainly not reverse the damage to the party's reputation, but it would go a very, very long way towards dispelling conceptions of the DAP as a Chinese or as an anti-Malay party. This would in turn attract more Malays and other non-Chinese to the party, and create a virtuous cycle, bringing in more and more new blood that is more and more plural in nature.

So, how can the DAP assure its Malay candidates of victory? Run them in a traditional DAP safe seat. There are a number of Parliamentary seats which have never or almost never been lost by the DAP.

This is the surest way to guarantee a victory for the Malay candidates — as long as they have the rocket symbol next to their name, they won't lose. A few of these constituencies would probably vote in a worm if it had the rocket symbol next to it.

The racial issue does arise again, though. I think all of these safe seats are basically Chinese-majority constituencies. There might be understandable apprehension at the idea of running a Malay candidate here.

But sacrifices must be made for the sake of the country. The party and their constituents must understand this. They cannot decry a Malay Parliamentarian as incapable of voicing Chinese or Indian grievances in Parliament, because this is plainly wrong.

There are no Malay, Chinese, Indian or lain-lain issues — only Malaysian issues. Every issue, from religion to affirmative action to ethnic education affects the Malaysian community as a whole, and not just one isolated subcommunity.

It is for this reason that the DAP can no longer afford sticking to its tried and true Chinese candidates. It is sad, having to force out old party stalwarts to new and untested waters, but it is for the party's and country's sake.

If the DAP cannot prove to the country that it is a party for all Malaysians, if it cannot have a single voice from the community of 13 or 14 million Malays in this country speaking out in Parliament, it can forget about its struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia.

But this does not have to be. If only the DAP is willing to take a chance and stake everything on bringing up a new class of Malay leaders in the party, it will be able to bring in so much new talent that has been held back by fears of DAP communalism. There is a huge untapped pool of leaders out there. These people can be tapped — if only the DAP dares to change its tack and chart a new course in Malaysian politics.

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.

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