Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How DAP lost principles, votes and friends by choosing Dr M


How DAP lost principles, votes and friends by choosing Dr M

by James Chai

A Cobra & 2 Lapdogs

The bigger picture is power and the moral claim by Pakatan Harapan Plus to get back to power is that the people have voted for a Harapan government and therefore, they must get it back from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, by all means.

We understand this. The only question is, at what cost?

By choosing the same arrangement as before – Dr Mahathir Mohamad as PM – DAP is willing to pay the price of principles, votes, and friendship for power.

Discarding principles: Working with the man who almost destroyed Harapan

DAP appealed to its supporters to back Mahathir before the 14th general election (GE14). This was difficult as Mahathir has constantly vilified and scapegoated DAP supporters for the ills of his past administrations. But there was a larger enemy of then PM Najib Abdul Razak and his government that DAP supporters were willing to vote out to "save Malaysia".

The reason why the same could not be done now – the moral claim weakened – is because Mahathir was seen as being instrumental in bringing down Harapan.

Although claiming no "direct" involvement in the Sheraton Move, Mahathir’s actions in delaying (or refusing) to pass the baton to Anwar Ibrahim since 2019, as well as his desire to create a Malay-centric coalition, has paved the way for the destruction of Harapan.

The twin objectives that Mahathir had always wanted to achieve were to marginalise Anwar and to remove DAP elements from his government. His legacy of being a Malay defender cannot be cemented if he was not the leader of the largest Malay coalition and Anwar becomes prime minister.

After losing the prime ministership to Muhyiddin, Mahathir revealed, rather soberingly, that the country cannot accept Anwar as prime minister because he was "too liberal".

Mahathir feared that once Anwar becomes prime minister, he will share political power with the non-Malays for his closeness to DAP and that the Malays will fear their positions will be threatened.

This narrative was consistent with Mahathir’s actions to drive a wedge in PKR by using Azmin Ali to weaken Anwar politically. Mahathir elevated Azmin to the post of economic affairs minister (seen as more powerful than finance minister) and to the board of Khazanah Nasional Bhd. These moves enabled Azmin to expand his support within PKR to prevent Anwar from being prime minister.

Further, Mahathir’s recruitment of former Umno politicians into Bersatu, as well as his openness to working with Umno and PAS, allowed hardliners within his party to work towards a Malay-centric coalition in the background.

Although it may be acceptable to say that Mahathir had no "direct" involvement in the Sheraton Move, he certainly had prepared the early steps that led to Harapan’s downfall. All the pieces moved with his knowledge, and he was not a helpless victim of others’ doing.

The only thing that Mahathir would have done differently from Muhyiddin was not to include tainted leaders such as Najib and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and to make sure that he was the PM instead. The other pieces would have been the same.

Displaying insincerity in passing the prime ministership to Anwar – a core element in accepting Mahathir into Harapan back in 2017 – and obvious attempts to wreck the Harapan coalition, Harapan supporters had enough.

By choosing to not only work with Mahathir but by placing him once again at the highest helm of power, DAP has chosen to discard the principles of the struggle, the core tenet of Harapan’s reason for being.

How are the Mighty fallen - 2 Samuel 1:27

One of DAP’s biggest burdens throughout 22 months of governing was to show that they are different from MCA. They had to show that they were not submissive to the prime minister, and they were not willing to compromise on matters of principles.

By making a clear decision to choose the man who nearly wrecked the coalition as its highest leader once again, it is no surprise that their moral claim to power has severely dampened. But it is not just the hyper-pragmatism that bothers the DAP supporters, it is also something deeply ideological.

Discarding votes: Ideological break from being defenders of the non-Malays

Choosing Mahathir once again has signified a clear ideological break for DAP as their claim as the conscience of a multiracial and progressive Malaysia would now be affected.

Despite successfully persuading its non-Malay voters to trust Mahathir during GE14, DAP’s supporters were left disappointed. While more extremist DAP supporters were expecting the near-impossible of equal rights, most simply expected some progress in an egalitarian society. At the very least, there should not be a return to the Umno days where the non-Malays were publicly marginalised and threatened.

However, the event of Malay Dignity Congress left a bitter taste in the mouths of non-Malays. Organised by Zainal Kling, the event emphasised how Malay rights were under threat and that the citizenship of non-Malays may be suspended should they not follow the "social contract".

The thing that bothered DAP supporters was not the event itself, but who attended the event. Its attendees included top leaders from Bersatu and Mahathir delivered the keynote address - a clear indication of his ideological preference.

This is when our memory revisits us. Mahathir was after all a champion of the ideology of Malay supremacy. Just his book, "The Malay Dilemma", has never sat well with many non-Malay DAP supporters. The promise of keeping Mahathir’s ideology at bay with Harapan’s improved accountability mechanism pre-GE14 did not work.

Chinese Malaysians are 'orang asing'

DAP was not able to do what MCA has failed to do. The past 22 months were also remembered as one of the most racially and religiously polarising times in recent history. Choosing Mahathir is a tactical choice with an ideological current. This does not sit well with voters who see a multiracial option in Anwar.

Discarding friendship: In and out of jail for 20 years for two years of power

You do not expect true friendship in politics. When interests change, you should expect those who once stood by you to leave you. There was, however, something different in the leaders of DAP, PKR and Amanah.

The unusual thing about the leaders of the three parties is that all of them suffered during the decades they were in the opposition. Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh paid personal sacrifices for speaking their minds; Lim Guan Eng and Mat Sabu shared prison cells when they were unfairly persecuted under Mahathir’s administration; Anwar spent 10 gruelling years in prison and 20 years vilified by the media.

Common suffering and personal sacrifices would have created a unique camaraderie that people in Bersatu did not have. Mahathir was PM for 22 years, and most of its leaders were part of the previous BN-led government as ministers or deputy ministers.

You would expect the leaders of DAP, PKR and Amanah to stick together as they had during the difficult times as the opposition. This time, however, they chose to go their separate ways. DAP’s decision to announce their support for Mahathir as PM for the second time is a demarcation of their new politics.

They are choosing one past over the other. The friendship, comradeship, and kinship are now being replaced by something thinner, more frivolous and more mundane - that of power.

And thus, we slowly extinguish the light we lit on a Harapan torch in May 2018.

JAMES CHAI is a legal consultant and researcher working for Invoke, among others. He also blogs at jameschai.com.my. You may reach him at jameschai.mpuk@gmail.com


Death of Pakatan Harapan, thanks DAP


  1. but whats the cost if backdoor pm continue to rule like a police state? of course for those that prefer a authoritarian regime like ccp, its not a problem especially if they dun hv to live in one.

    1. With your yellow skin, and your yellow belly, you ought to go live in the US, the paragon of democracy, to get a good taste of nirvana, hehehehe

    2. i pick oz anytime. u think i am stupid kah?

    3. Wakakakakaka…

      Will the Asia guarding dog of uncle Sam want u?

      Count yr blessing that yr dangdut pals have some uses for u in their schemes!

    4. Yeah, the useful idiot !

  2. Even hard-core DAP supporters in Penang are calling the Mahathir PM for 6-months deal "bluffing small children".

    1. conman is a useless piece of shit, but i doubt anwar will to fight.

  3. Wakakakakaka…

    Talk about blur!

    "… a authoritarian regime like ccp…"

    犬养 mfer, is CCP China any worse than demoncratic USA?

    Or yr 蔡妹妹's anything-goes but true 民生 Taiwan?

    Go ponder more in that fart filled well lah. That's yr real world!

    1. safari versus zoo, of course monkey like u pick zoo bec zookeeper feed u shit 24/7.

    2. Another 南魔萬 England on parade!

      Safari isn't a zoo & normally there r NO monkey living within safari ground.

      Ooop… that fart filled well of yrs has a different zoological scene!

      Too much inhaled fart, no?

  4. QUOTE
    Stop vilifying DAP and focus on bigger picture
    23 Jun 2020

    It is increasingly evident that ever since Pakatan Harapan failed to meet the agreed deadline of announcing our prime ministerial candidate, certain quarters are now attempting to apportion blame on the DAP by questioning our values, principles and commitment to the cause of reform in Malaysia.

    Let me start by saying that since our inception, DAP’s raison d’être has been to fight for the people of Malaysia. For 54 years, the struggle of DAP has been for the collective well-being of Malaysians and not for the ambitions of any single individual. DAP’s commitment to a better Malaysia has always been our priority and will continue to be our priority.

    The obvious bears repeating. The rakyat overwhelmingly voted for a Pakatan Harapan government in the last general election.

    Therefore, to deliver the people’s mandate, we need to stop this immature quarrelling of questioning each other’s principles and loyalties the soonest in order to formulate a pragmatic solution to save Malaysia from Kleptocracy 2.0

    Let me begin by reiterating that DAP unconditionally supports Anwar Ibrahim to become the prime minister of Malaysia.

    Ever since Anwar was first sent to prison, DAP has stood firm by him. We mustn’t forget that it was the late Karpal Singh who represented Anwar in his first sodomy trial.

  5. Karpal’s wholehearted support for Anwar came at a cost to his freedom as he was detained under the Sedition Act in 2000. Even after new allegations against Anwar arose in 2008, once again it was Karpal and the DAP who unconditionally supported the PKR leader.

    We have supported Anwar during his darkest days, and will continue to support him during his brightest, even after some of his closest allies inside his parties have deserted him. Despite that, there are some who not only question but accuse DAP of abandoning him.

    Attacking the DAP and even Dr Mahathir does not achieve anything productive. It only creates an unnecessary stumbling block that stunts our progress towards finding a pragmatic solution to save Malaysia from Kleptocracy 2.0

    We must remember that it was with Tun Mahathir as our PM candidate who helped Pakatan Harapan garner the numbers to win the federal government back in 2018. Now, we must realise that it is with Dr Mahathir as prime minister and Anwar as his deputy that we can deliver the government that Malaysia voted for.

    DAP has publicly backed this combination because it is apparent that it is the only viable way PH can gain back the federal government to deliver the people’s mandate. Further, DAP has pledged to ensure the implementation of mechanisms to ensure that Anwar will be handed the Prime Ministership in six months from the time we regain the federal government.

    This will not only help rid Malaysia of the very same kleptocratic government that was voted out in 2018 but also ensure stability and certainty in a time when the world is beset by the socio-economic crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    There is a famous and overused sporting cliché: we have to take it one game at a time.

    Ever since PH ascended to the federal government in 2018, we have been blinded by the issue of “transition of power” to the extent that it ultimately cost us power. Unfortunately, even in opposition, this obsession continues to divide us.

    The reality is before we start thinking about the cup final, we must first qualify for the cup. In order to qualify, we must have the numbers. Currently, the combination of Dr Mahathir as prime minister and Anwar as his deputy appears to be the only viable formula.

    The longer we continue to obsess over this issue, the more authoritarian Muhyiddin, Najib and Perikatan Nasional will become as they reverse all our reforms and execute Kleptocracy 2.0. Malaysia is descending by the day and there is no way we can stop it from happening from the opposition benches. As it is, parliament has already been muffled on the pretext of the movement control order.

    Staying in opposition will also cost us our freedoms, as Perikatan Nasional continues to use the levers of state to intimidate us from voicing out against injustice.

    The fact is that the breakdown of Pakatan Harapan Government occurred following sizable defections from both Bersatu and PKR.

    In the case of the latter, defections continue to occur till this very day. Lubok Antu MP Jugah Muyang became the latest to jump ship as he sided with Perikatan Nasional, leaving Sarawak PKR with only two representatives in the Dewan Rakyat.

    Besides MPs, PKR assemblymen continue to defect even in the PH strongholds of Selangor and Penang. Recent high profile examples include former Penang state exco Afif Bahardin and Selangor Deputy Speaker Dr Daroyah Alwi.

    Yes, these representatives have betrayed the people’s trust in them. But at the same time it is no use to dwell on those who have left.

    Rather it is more important to focus on how we can all come together to return the people’s mandate and prioritise our nation’s well-being. This cannot be achieved if those in glass houses continue to throw stones by making accusations and questioning the loyalties of their allies.

    * Aimran Sarhan Abdullah is political secretary to Tanjong Bunga assemblyman Zairil Khir Johari.