Why is DAP unusually quiet?

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | I believe other political observers can readily agree with this opener: in the DAP, what party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and party veteran Lim Kit Siang say carry the ultimate weight for the party.

Some DAP members may disagree, but that’s the way I see it as an independent observer. Father and son are the DAP! What they say is the supreme voice of the DAP.

Looking at it in the context of Pakatan Harapan, in which DAP is considered a heavyweight, the opinions of father and son count. If I were Dr Mahathir Mohamad or Anwar Ibrahim and if I need DAP’s support to implement important policies, I would surely seek the views of Guan Eng or Kit Siang. I would not go running to Nga Kor Ming, Teresa Kok or Liew Chin Tong, for example.

That’s the way it is in a coalition government that comprises several parties. Opinions of key party leaders matter. The rest just follow obediently as they have to toe the party line.

Those unhappy with certain decisions could probably go and take a cold shower and scream their lungs dry in the bathroom. Yeah, vent your frustrations in private if you want to keep your party and public posts. Otherwise, just quit. But how many are prepared to do that?

It’s fortunate that no single party has a brute majority in the Harapan coalition. In the BN, there was almighty Umno, utilising its brute strength to bully the weaker partners like MCA, MIC, PBB, PBS and others.

I think the Harapan coalition is a more structurally fair setup, in comparison with BN, in that there is no dominant partner. We are aware that Mahathir is just the interim prime minister.

I like to believe that this Mahathir administration is fairer in power-sharing, more united and transparent and that its cabinet decisions are made collectively.

As part of the government, DAP has undergone a fundamental change – hopefully for the better. This transformation is expected as political parties must evolve with the roles they have to play within the political system from time to time.

In line with the different role DAP has now, it is only natural for party leaders to review the nature of politics and the purpose of political life, that of their party and their own.

We cannot expect Guan Eng or Kit Siang to keep on criticising and shouting every other day as before. That the DAP leaders are unusually quiet now is very noticeable.

That is why I understand where MCA spokesperson Saw Yee Fung (above, left) was coming from when she urged DAP’s six cabinet ministers to reveal if the cabinet had agreed to maintain the 90:10 quota for the matriculation programme.

Saw, who described the policy as “unjust”, also asked if DAP stood for the abolition of the programme.

This is a fair question from the MCA, to which DAP should rightly respond. The public would also welcome an official DAP stand on the issue.

“If indeed they had voiced out their resentment in the cabinet, this is even more alarming as it only shows that the ‘equal footing’ claimed by DAP is only the party’s illusion.

“(The reality is that) the whole Pakatan Harapan government is run solely by the prime minister alone and DAP’s view is and never will be of any significance,” said Saw.

She also accused DAP of compromising the constitutional rights of the non-bumiputera by not opposing the policy.

We are only too aware of such allegations among opposing parties. MCA is playing the reverse role now.

But I’m glad MCA has younger leaders now to keep the DAP ministers on their toes. MCA is playing the DAP’s opposition role of the past. Criticising responsibly and posing pertinent questions is healthy politics, which should be encouraged among our young politicians today.

On the 90-10 quota, it is understandable if we do not hear Guan Eng raising his voice against the policy, even if he is unhappy with it. You just do not gun down a cabinet colleague publicly. Ministers should know what to do. Harapan has to avoid public spats among their ministers.

It’s quite obvious that the DAP is unhappy with the quota. DAP leaders like P Ramasamy and Ronnie Liu (below) have raised their concerns over the issue. But they are not party heavyweights.

However, it’s well and good that DAP has allowed their second-echelon leaders to voice their discontent against certain government policies. There should be no such gag in a party of DAP’s stature.

For now, we can expect DAP top guns to be less vocal. That may be disappointing to some, but must be accepted, even grudgingly.

I’ll be contented as long as DAP leaders stay away from dubious deals and corruption when in power. Bear in mind that power is tempting and seductive and it corrupts.

On this score, let me sound a warning to the Penang DAP. I believe that murmurs about some greedy party leaders being involved in hanky-panky deals are not totally unfounded.

To the Penang DAP, don’t say that you have not been warned. We are watching you.

  • Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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