By : ANTHONY F. LIJUA
DEMOCRATIC Action Party (DAP) started making inroads to Sabah sometime in the 1970’s as a purely Chinese party. It was in 2007 that three branches were set up headed by Kadazan/Dusuns/Murut (KDM) - Mr. Edward E. Mujie (Tamparuli), Mr. Stephen J. Jimbangan (Kapayan) and Mr. Jusin Sabaran (Kuamut).
Over the last few years, more and more members among the bumiputra (KDM, Malay and others) began to join the party and more KDM or bumiputra branches formed. With the big numbers of bumiputra participation in Sabah, the Sabah DAP began to look more like a really multi-racial party from East Malaysia.
However, the KDM earlier leader members who started the bumiputra entrance into Sabah DAP are now beginning to feel sidelined by the national leadership as they are not represented in the National Central Executive Committee (CEC).
At present, unlike the other major Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties, DAP KDM original members have no representative in the CEC. This is a major over-sight by the national leadership although they want to portray a really multi-racial opposition party of Malaysia.
This has been going on and on and many KDM are beginning to feel that they are not given the respect or chance to voice out their opinions and contributions for Sabah in the party.
How could Sabah bumiputra participate in national leadership without a platform? If this cannot be resolved by the DAP national leadership, it will lead to an exodus of bumiputra leaving the party as they felt that the national leader do not care for the Sabah bumiputra contributions and struggles in the party.
In numerous meetings, gatherings, conventions, congress and discussions throughout Sabah, the Chinese language or mandarin has been predominantly used. These had resulted in many bumiputra finding it very hard or impossible to understand, thus causing them to be disinterested and disillusioned. DAP has many issues and policies that are of national interests to the member and will definitely affect their lives in the future if the voters choose PR DAP to be their representatives in the government.
It is, therefore, very important that the bumiputra understand what are being discussed or communicated to them. If this situation continues and persists, it would be better for them to leave the party and join other parties that the members would understand and communicate with.
In the recent Sabah DAP convention dinner held at the Grand Port Seaview Restaurant, many Sabah bumiputra came from all over Sabah with the intention of meeting up with Lim Guan Eng, the National Secretary General and Penang Chief Minister but were very disappointed that they had no chance of meeting him face to face, shaking hands and exchanging a few words with him.
He was heavily escorted and guarded by the Sabah DAPSY youth (acting as security guards) making it impossible to come close to him. It looks like these leaders are beginning to be made unapproachable as the PR DAP leaders are becoming more and more popular.
This is a very serious situation and we cannot afford leaders like this with an ambition to take over the seats in Putrajaya. And if the original KDM and bumiputra who struggled and worked so hard to make DAP acceptable among the bumiputra in Sabah are not properly represented in the CEC, DAP bumiputra voices in Sabah may or will not be heard at all.
Lim Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang have been making many trips to get more and more support especially from bumiputra in Sabah for the 13th General Election. They will be wasting their time if the attitude of the Sabah DAPSY youth is to fence them away from the people who want to be closer and will support the party national leadership.
The bumiputra members want to actively participate and be a part Sabah DAP growth. But if their participations are not valued, they are brushed aside and not represented by the KDM original leaders who helped built Sabah DAP bumiputra then it will be useless for them to continue supporting the struggle to assist DAP on the road to Putrajaya.
The DAP party congress will be on 15th December, 2012. The KDM and bumiputra members are observing and taking notes of what the national DAP leaders are doing for Sabah representation. There would be a major backlash for DAP if this issues are not attended to by the national leaders at the DAP congress and before the 13th General Election.