Thursday, March 29, 2007

DAP versus PKR in Machap

In my posting at BolehTalk yesterday I queried whether there could be a secret war in Machap?

Of course I was talking about the by-election as one between the DAP and the Chinese element in the PKR, rather than between the DAP and the MCA.

Since 2004, where the Chinese component of PKR, led by Tian Chua, vigorously sought a greater role in Malaysian politics, they inevitably came up against the DAP. ‘Twas a case of two opposition parties (comprising mainly Chinese members) struggling to position itself as the voice of the Chinese constituency dissatisfied with the policies of the ruling party, the Barisan Nasional (BN).

As the Chinese said, there cannot be two tigers on one mountain.

Though both claim to be multi-racial parties, and no one disbelieve them to be so except those taken by BN propaganda, the reality is both depend heavily on Chinese supporters.

If we ignore for one instant that we are discussing the Chinese section of PKR, certainly PKR as a party has more Malay (former UMNO) members led by Anwar Ibrahim and some socialists by Dr Syed Husin.

DAP has very few Malay members but on the plus side to its multi-racial claim, has a history of many Indian Malaysians holding prominent positions in the party. Malays shunned it for the reason of BN propaganda. Even some Malay bloggers who are anti BN are equally anti DAP.

There was already bad blood between the Chinese section of PKR and DAP in the 2004 elections because they were scrambling over only so many constituencies favourable to their Chinese candidates. DAP could only support PKR by surrendering its hold over what it considered to be its traditional or potential strongholds.

Regarding Machap, PKR had voiced the possibility of Tian Chua standing there, but as DAP felt it was their traditional area, it quickly declared its candidature despite opposition policy to avoid costly by-elections in order to husband their meagre resources for the Big One.

DAP knows that if it doesn’t stake its claim in Machap now, even if it faces defeat, it can kiss that constituency goodbye comes the general election. PKR gave in reluctantly and ungraciously, demanding that it should be given the seat to contest when the general election is held.

Basically, both know they would face defeat in this by-election but had to run a furturistic red ribbon around Machap to say, “Hey, this seat is ours”, not unlike a doggie (or a tiger) peeing around the peirmeter of its territory to delinate its claim.

True enough, before I could say 'Machap', malaysiakini reader Umar Mukthar (whom I suspect to be a PKR bloke or at least a supporter) wrote in to say that DAP is damn selfish to present itself as the opposition candidate in Machap. Despite knowing it “will be rolled over by BN, [it still] … does not care for as long it can appear as the champions of the Chinese.”

Umar claimed that through the action of the DAP, “… the racial divide gets more and more cemented.” He stressed that this “is no way to build a country for our children.”

He lambasted the DAP every which way, making me wonder whether he was from the BN … or … yes, the PKR!

He sneered at the DAP getting a total of 1,285 votes in 2004 in an electorate where 4,518 Chinese votes were available [now who's the racist?]. He exclaimed that that’s pathetic, considering all of DAP's communal rhetoric.

OTOH, he declared that, sayang saja, it’s such a pity multi-racial PKR [though we know comprises mainly of UMNO rejects] is not contesting in Machap. This should have been the case because the PKR in 1999 had done better than the DAP in 2004.

Alas, Umar Mukthar conveniently didn’t mention that in 2004, the PKR was virtually annihilated nationwide, save for a few crucial votes in Dr Wan Azizah’s constituency of Permatang Pauh, while the DAP surged forward when it discarded the association with PAS.

In other words, today, like now, the DAP is way way ahead of a moribund PKR. Oh, incidentally, who's the current Opposition Leader? Not surprisingly, Umar forgot to mention this.

Nonetheless, Umar pursued on, voicing his pity for those voters of Machap because with the absence of most wonderful PKR in the by-election, those Machap-ians have been deprived of an opportunity to at least peer beyond the wall [meaning racist walls like the DAP’s] and enjoy a wonderful marvellous view of a colour-blind Malaysia for their children.

Wow! But then, what happened to the colour-blind PKR in 2004? Could it be because of its blindness it lost its way when it abdicated its party's independence to TaiKoh from Kelantan? Why would the voters' lack of sympathies for PKR be any different today?

Didn’t I say there’s a secret [cold] war going on – expect more sabotage against the DAP from PKR.


  1. Damn easy way to solve this impasse: Let Anwar Ibrahim the Chameleon of Malaysian politics stand in Machap. If he wins, Machap is PKR's territory for eternity or judgement day, whichever comes first. But if he loses, PKR must close shop within 24 hrs.

  2. The biggest mistake DAP & Keadilan made was to team up with PAS in '99. You have two secular-ideology parties joining with another who envisions a theocratic state as the form of government in Malaysia. And we all knew who was the real winner amongst the three.

    If the two had left PAS out of their alliance & run on a social-democratic platform, they would have faired much better. They'll be able to capture the votes of non-Muslims fed up with BN (and who aren't looking forward to PAS in power), the former UMNO Anwaristas, and Malays looking for an alternative to the rightwing UMNO & PAS. Of course they won't be able to take over, but at least there's a chance of denying BN their 2/3-rds.

  3. friend,

    having been a reader for some time, it's fairly obvious that you hold dap close to your heart and view pkr with no small amount of distaste. but that's ok. i'm no big fan of excessive partisanship, but no matter.

    yes, we were nearly wiped out in 2004, i'm in no state of denial. people say if we do badly next round, we'll be wiped out for good. i used to think so, but having spent more time around the party and understanding the motivations of its members, i no longer believe it'll disappear just like that.

    only one moot question regarding the present: who would've gotten more votes in Machap?

    but again, that's a moot question. we've given up the seat, and that's that - no bad blood as far as i'm concerned. many quarters are already ready to help out.

    more importantly: what kind of future do you envisage for the DAP? what is its long term plan?

    the DAP has a great legacy of always standing for integrity and such. unfortunately, it's never really been able to make a real dent (1/3 or 1/2) in state or national politics.

    i'll be the first to admit that it's gone further than pkr ever has, but how much further will it go?

    perhaps this means new approaches can be examined?

    many people like to discuss pkr and dap in opposition to one another. but why? can you name a single major ideological difference? pembezaan matlamat?

    don't use the tired old islamic state thing. pkr has said time and again that it's does not agree with an Islamic state.

    there's so much we can do together, and yet so much time spent fighting one another :( why all this spite?

    big picture, big picture......

  4. I agree with BrightEyes. If PKR drops PAS, relations with DAP can be improved tremendously because it opens up some options. There is no "reforming" PAS or getting them to "water down" their Islamic position, and there can be no accepting religious organisation in government. Islam (and indeed any form of religious guidance) is very valuable to individuals and is a desirable trait in political leaders, but it must not have any chance of forging a dogmatic basis for collective guidance in nation-building. If PAS changes their name we can talk, otherwise the word "Islam" there is an instant disqualification... personally, if I had to choose between a BN and a PAS candidate, I will have to look at the individual candidates (I would gladly vote for Salleh Abbas in PAS), because the ideology of either party is unacceptable. Keadilan cannot disagree with Islamic State but agree with PAS, that's the way I feel about it anyway.

    As for "UMNO rejects"... I disagree with KTemoc on this. Once upon a time PKR was chock full of UMNO rejects, but most of that scum has already gone back to UMNO. What you're left with now are people who genuinely support the things which they claim to support, but whether they are willing to push the envelope and denounce Ketuanan Melayu unambiguously remains to be seen... but for the time-being, I think their potential is worth cultivating and supporting.

    As for which is stronger, DAP or Keadilan, the electoral performance gap is *much* narrower when you consider popular support, although still slightly favouring DAP. Looking at just the Parliamentary and DUN winnings may not be the best measure of strength. In fact, in the last election in some places like Ijok, they IMPROVED their performance, in the face of Badawi's goodwill to all which managed to charm voters in general.

    But even if Keadilan wins nothing in the next election, they will not die. PRM's infusion guarantees that. Those guys have staying power, they hung around with nothing for a long time :P

    I do agree with KTemoc on one thing in particular: so-called "progressive thinkers" armed with university degrees who pride themselves on not being subject to mainstream media indoctrination, who denounce DAP as the "Chinese UMNO", but are completely incapable of aducing any evidence of this, and btw, it's not just Malays who feel this way, some Indians and yes even CHINESE youngsters have been indoctrinated with this idea.

    Yes, the party's brand has been badly tarnished, even DAP members will admit to that. But in terms of actual policy positions, I have yet to encounter anyone actually *logically demonstrate* that DAP is a Parti Cina that just "membela kaum dia sendiri", all they can do is spout off that traditional UMNO bullshit, with no supporting arguments.