The struggle to become colour-blind (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

These colour-blind people appear to be facing a lot of problems in their own party. First it was Khalid. Then Zaid. And now Ronnie too appears to be facing the prospect of getting killed off by his own party.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Nut Graph came out with a very interesting piece called Uncommon Sense with Wong Chin Huat: Spotlight on DAP. The article starts of by saying:

THE media spotlight has turned to the DAP in recent weeks over the party’s sacking of Tee Boon Hock, Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu‘s special assistant. Tee had allegedly issued letters of recommendation using Liu’s official letterhead and seal to help family members secure contracts. Liu was severely reprimanded by a DAP disciplinary committee for the incident.

Meanwhile, Selangor speaker Teng Chang Khim faced disciplinary proceedings due to his “OMG, the real culprit is freed” tweet. Teng told the disciplinary committee he was tweeting about a movie character and not about Liu and Tee.

The Nut Graph asks political scientist Wong Chin Huat how he thinks the DAP’s leadership performed in these events, and what the DAP‘s democratic health is like as a whole.

You can read the rest of the piece here:

There are not many in the opposition who has managed to breach the racial-religious barrier. One who comes to mind is the PAS MP for Shah Alam, Khalid Samad.

PAS is a difficult party for the non-Muslims to accept. This is mainly because of the party’s stand on Islamic laws or Hudud, which the non-Muslims oppose. Understandably, what has been happening in many Muslim countries, especially since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, causes non-Muslims to become very suspicious of Islamic laws.

Khalid, however, has been able to reach out to the non-Muslims and most non-Muslims have no problem accepting and trusting this PAS MP. Maybe because Khalid demonstrates sincerity helps somewhat. He appears to be honest in what he says and does and he does not give the perception that he just cakap politik or is playing to the gallery.

I would even go so far as to say if Khalid were to contest in a predominantly non-Muslim constituency he would still win in spite of the PAS ‘baggage’ he is carrying.

But there are those in PAS who are not too comfortable with his colour-blind image and they want to bring him down, especially those in PAS Selangor, Khalid’s home state. Whether these people feel he is too popular with the non-Muslims and fear he might one day make a bid for a higher position in the party or whether they feel he is too ‘compromising’ to the non-Muslims I really do not know. But whatever it may be there are moves to topple him and to send him into retirement.

Such is the fate of those in PAS who try to be colour-blind. Their own party kills them off.

PKR is already a colour-blind party but there are some who are more colour-blind than others. One such person who comes to mind is Zaid Ibrahim. But then, because he is too colour-blind, this too has been used against him and there are allegations that he is not Islamic enough in his conduct.

What degree of colour-blind should he be then? If he talks too much about the Malay or Muslim agenda then he would be called a racist or chauvinist. But when he discards the Malay or Muslim agenda totally then he is called a traitor to the Malay race, or worse, a religious deviant.

You can never win.

Gobalakrishnan, also from PKR, is another I would label as colour-blind. He has greater support from the non-Indians than from his fellow Indians. Many Indians, in fact, have told me that they reject Gobala. But when he goes to places like Kelantan he is well received by the Malays there. I know for a fact that Tok Guru Nik Aziz will insist that Gobala sits beside him during ceramahs.

It appears like Nik Aziz loves Gobala more than those from the Indian community. Gobala is ‘struggling’ in PKR and can’t seem to get support from his own party, in particular the Indians. I suspect if Gobala were to join PAS and contest in Kelantan he would do better there.

Ronnie Liu from the DAP is probably another non-Muslim who can contest in a Malay constituency and still win.

I remember before the March 2008 general election there was a dilemma as to where Ronnie should contest. I spoke to some PAS supporters in Bangi and asked them whether they have any problem supporting a DAP candidate. They told me that Bangi is a Malay majority area and there was no way a DAP candidate could win. I then told them that the candidate may be Ronnie and they were pleased.

The PAS supporters offered to organise ceramahs and meet-the-voters sessions for Ronnie. They even set the dates but I told them to hold on because nothing had been decided yet. When it was finally decided that Ronnie would be contesting in Pandamaran instead, the PAS supporters were quite disappointed.

Gobind Singh Deo is another non-Malay whom the Muslims love. When we heard he was going to contest in Johor we went to see him to persuade him to forget about Johor and contest in Selangor instead. Gobind said that PAS wants the Puchong seat so that may be a problem — there are no seats available in Selangor.

Initially, PAS wanted to contest in Puchong and if DAP took that seat then there would be a three-corner fight like in the previous election. And that means both opposition candidates would lose. But when they were told that DAP would be fielding Gobind, PAS gave way and handed the seat to DAP.

PAS did not surrender the seat to DAP. They surrendered it to Gobind. That is how strong Gobind’s support is amongst the Muslims. And Gobind won with a significant Malay vote.

Of course, there are still some problems in the opposition, especially on matters involving Islam. But there are some individuals who are able to overcome the race-religion barrier that is very much a culture of Malaysian politics. However, these colour-blind people appear to be facing a lot of problems in their own party. First it was Khalid. Then Zaid. And now Ronnie too appears to be facing the prospect of getting killed off by his own party.

There are many professionals and civil society movement activists who refuse to join any existing political party because they regard these parties as not being colour-blind enough. Maybe one day we shall see a new party emerge, set up by those who want to see the birth of a true-blue anak bangsa Malaysia, a bangsa or race that is colour-blind.

If that does materialise, maybe those from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat who feel that Malaysia is ready for politik baru or new politics, politics that is colour-blind, should reconsider their political future within this new third force.


Translated into Chinese at: