[NO anonymous comments. Please use Google Account, OpenID or Name/URL. Pseudonym accepted. Thank you]SEVERAL debaters feel that I am concentrating too much on the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and that I should also comment more often on the opposition parties.
It seems to me that as much as Mohd Najib Abdul Razak craved for the non-Malay votes during last May general elections, the DAP on the other hand is longing for the Malay votes.
The non-Malays, in particular the Chinese, gave a thumbs down to the BN but many Malays gave the benefit of the doubt to the DAP either directly or via its Pakatan Rakyat partners – Pas and PKR.
As much as the BN could not do without the support of the minority non-Malays, the DAP knows it could not flourish without the support the majority Malays.
It is on this basis that I see the recent statement by newly elected Selangor DAP deputy chairman, Gobind Singh Deo, who is the Member of Parliament for Puchong, Selangor and the son of the DAP national chairman, Karpal Singh.
|Gobind Singh: Gunning after Malay voters|
The reason, according to him, is because the party has displayed solid work, walked the talk and stood for good governance in the states where it was part of the government.
With the Malays and other Bumiputeras forming 61.4% of the population and growing, their importance in determining the future of politics is obvious. The Chinese population has shrunk from the peak of 45% in 1957 to 22.9%, and Indians account for 7.1%.
Gobind Singh said the party had in the past championed anti-corruption, wastage of public funds and abuse of power to win public support.
"Over the last five years, Selangor and Penang having been practising good governance and this is a point we want to sell to Malays to join us for a better Malaysia," he told The Malaysian Insider.
Starting Early on Malay Voters
Gobind Singh’s statement is important on two counts. One, after having succeeded in fielding a handful of Malay candidates in the last GE, the party is starting early to coax the Malays for the next general polls.
Two, the fact that it was the most successful of the three main Pakatan Rakyat parties at the last GE is not lost on the DAP leaders.
They knew that a significant number of urban Malay voters sided with the DAP. Many of them were members of neither Pas nor the PKR. These are Malays who believe that a strong opposition is essential to good governance.
In the 2013 GE, after a long absence, the DAP successfully put Malay representatives back in Dewan Rakyat and State Legislative Assembly. Mohd Arif Sabri won the Raub parliamentary seat, Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji captured the Mentakab state seat, both in Pahang, and the former political secretary to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Zairil Khir Johari, was also elected the Bukit Bendera MP.
|Mohd Ariff Sabri: DAP MP for Raub|
|Tengku Zulpuri Shah: DAP State Assemblyman for Mentakab|
Time is Running Out
In a sense, time is running out for the DAP. The number of Malays who knew the history of the party and recognised it as a multi-racial party is getting smaller.
Even in the best of times the DAP never really had a strong Malay representation.
The younger generations of Malays and even some non-Malays are not aware that DAP started off as a multi-racial party and used to have Malay representation in the Central Executive Committee. A founding Malay CEC member was Mohamed Nor Jetty. He was one of the party’s national vice-chairmen.
What the younger Malays now know about the DAP is what is being drummed up by its detractors that it is an offshoot of the People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore.
That indeed was the case way back in the 1960’s when some Malaysian members of the PAP, including Devan Nair (the PAP MP for Bangsar and later the President of Singapore), decided “to continue the party” in Malaysia after the 1965 separation by forming the DAP in the same year.
Unhappy Experience with Malay Members
The Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim’s bitter departure from the party in 2012 and the outcomes of controversial CEC election the same year, when not a single Malay candidate out of eight was elected, damaged the party’s reputation. Its detractors had a field accusing it of racial chauvinism.
In alluding to the importance of Malay support, Gobind Singh had clearly used a very subtle tactic when he said the DAP in the past championed anti-corruption, wastage of public funds and abuse of power.
The flip side of that statement is to suggest that the Malays who are against corruption, wastage of public funds and abuse of power should be fighting along side the DAP and the PR.
Whereas those who do fight on the side of the DAP are seen as tolerating corruption, wastage of public funds and abuse of power. Such an approach may find currency among the younger and more educated Malay voters.
Still winning Malay membership and votes is an uphill battle for the Chinese-dominated DAP.