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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

DAP’s ticking time bomb



It is pointless arguing about who started the speculation on DAP facing deregistration.
“When are the world's political parties going to get appropriate symbols: snake, louse, jackal, ... trash can, clown face, ... dollar bill with bat wings on it?”
- PJ O'Rourke, ‘All the Trouble in the World’
Before I begin, I would just like to draw attention to two pieces, the first by Rais Hussin, ‘Malaysia’s 'five risks' - who are we kidding?’ - which is a cogent dissection of this regime's domestic and foreign policies, and the second by Dzulkefly Ahmad, ‘Stumbling block to debunking kleptocracy’ - which is the rational way in dealing with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's duplicity.
In one of the numerous speeches about the 1MDB fiasco, Lim Kit Siang, the DAP’s elder statesmen said, “My first book ‘Time Bombs in Malaysia’ in 1978 quoted my speech in Parliament on the Third Malaysia Plan in July 1976 where I warned that several time bombs were ticking away in Malaysia and unless these time bombs were defused, Malaysia could be blown to smithereens.”
The irony, of course, is that this whole Registrar of Societies (ROS) fiasco about the validity of DAP’s central executive committee (CEC), use of logo and the supposed conspiracy to ban the party is a ticking time bomb of DAP’s own design. Like many issues, this one should have been addressed a long time ago in a transparent manner and whoever is in control of the party should have put the interest of DAP ahead of individual interests. Instead, it has become a time bomb with a nervous Umno finger on the detonator, made worse by the DAP provoking a pre-emptive detonation.
When you are dealing with a hegemon which controls the bureaucracy, there is no room for error when it comes to the legitimacy of the party and the credibility of its leaders. In my piece about the prolonged amateur hour of the DAP, I (once) again reminded DAP to stop supplying their political opponents with ammunition.
For instance, when the grand poohbah’s press secretary Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad reminds the DAP that it was their lifelong members who lodged the original complaint and have not withdrawn it, he is absolutely correct. There is no point in PKR's communications director Fahmi Fadzil calling it a “desperado” act because this is what Umno does, but the problem is that the allegations brought by DAP members in their complaint to ROS also illustrates that the DAP engages in political acts which go against the principles of democracy. So, it really does not matter which Umno organ recognises the legitimacy of the CEC, it should not have open to political attacks in the first place.
Furthermore, it is pointless arguing about who started the speculation on DAP facing deregistration as articulated by party secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng because all of it is political theatre anyway. In case anybody does not get what this means, it means it really does not matter anyway. This is a regime which has very little understanding of fair play - and this is the important part - this is a regime which received the support of the majority of Malaysians (including non-Malays) for decades, which means until recently the majority of Malaysians did not care about political fair play either.
Even if the Umno establishment manages to deregister the DAP, the reality is that every DAP member standing for election will get the support of their base, no matter which logo they are contesting under and which party they choose to seek shelter with.
It would not surprise me if the Umno hegemon does use this as the means for deregistering DAP. It also would not surprise me that there would be a crackdown in the upcoming elections but the reality is that they (Umno) know that whatever they do will not erode the support DAP has or erode the support that partisan opposition supporters have for their preferred parties. What everyone is worried about is the support of the fence sitters and that the sympathy vote goes a long way.
The question here is that is all this chicanery gaining sympathy for the DAP and its allies, or is this merely creating a toxic atmosphere in which middle-of-the-road voters are sidelined by partisans who confuse, conflate and manufacture issues which detract from the problems this country is facing?
Make politics local again
However, this idea of Kit Siang going to “tour the country to seek public feedback whether we should succumb to such intimidation from Umno-BN - whether Guan Eng should resign as Penang chief minister and I retire from Malaysian politics," is a complete waste of time and the reason why the DAP gets into the trouble it always complains of.
What does this achieve? What “public opinion” are we talking about here? It is not as though the DAP is going around asking the “general public” if Kit Siang should retire and his son should resign as chief minister. If that were the case, Umno would fill halls which its cadres demanding the retirement of Lim Kit Siang and the resignation of Lim Guan Eng.
No, the “public” here are DAP supporters. But what if DAP supporters want Kit Siang to step down and Guan Eng to resign? What would happen then? Would the political apparatus of the DAP “concede” to public opinion?
On the other, what Umno establishment political operatives are claiming is that all this talk about deregistration and tours to gauge partisan opinion is merely a ‘sandiwara’ by DAP to get the support of partisans because there is really no way to accurately gauge the results of this tour. It is merely another method to prolong the dynastic agenda of certain members of DAP, they claim.
Instead of massive rallies and tours for dubious political purposes, the opposition should go about making politics local again. If this is really a kleptocratic regime then surely there will be issues on a state level that reflects this. Opposition political operatives should be working together at the state level to highlight issues that affect specific demographics which could then coalesce into voting blocks.
They should borrow pages from the PSM playbook and go to the ground and not only talk about the 1MDB issue but on basic issues which Umno is ignoring with its usual propaganda of race and religion. These efforts should be highlighted in the alternative press instead of the constant 1MDB ‘porn’ that satiates a specific demographic
Meanwhile (and this is the funny part), former Umno minister Zainuddin Maidin in an attempt to “defend” DAP claims, “The Malays are worried about the Chinese from China coming here as they fear they will assimilate easily with local Chinese, who still have strong leanings towards their motherland.”
Really?
Only a former Umno member could extend a hand of support while simultaneously throwing a punch. So, let me get this straight. Malays will always suspect their fellow citizens of not having the interests of their homeland at heart because of their allegiance to mother China? However, the DAP is okay because they want to ‘Malaysianise’ the country.
And to top of the crap cake with a cherry, Zam sagely claims, “Besides, non-Malays also notice the change in Umno's secularism and liberalism since the party started working together with PAS to rule the country.”
Really? Umno was a “secular” and “liberal” party? Can we take it then that Bersatu is “liberal” and “secular” like the old Umno?
Look, Zam in the past has admitted that the Umno establishment through their propaganda organs demonised the Chinese community, so all he really has to say is that the DAP was never really a threat to the Malays. There is no need to normalise Malay bigotry in attempt to justify Bersatu’s contention that they are the new defenders of ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’.
If “ordinary Malays, just like others, are born moderates and do not easily succumb to the lies, fake news and false information concocted and disseminated by Umno”, then why is it Umno had the support of the majority of Malaysians in the past and the majority support of the Malays in the present?  Because the reality of politics in Malaysia is a lot more nuanced that the Bangsa Malaysia kool aid.
Umno controls everything but what these political upheavals have demonstrated is that Umno is not invincible. Their war chest is running out, their election machinery skittish, their pawns jostling for power, but most importantly, their leadership weak.
You know what the problem is. The very same could be said about the opposition.
Stop providing ammunition to Umno and stop creating these dramas which do nothing to reassure middle-of-the-road Malaysians that the opposition can effectively run this country.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.- Mkini

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