Falling off the pedestal

Whenever the PH government is handling an issue from the perspectives of race, non-Malays will instantly feel that they have been neglected or unfairly treated, and such a negative sentiment is putting DAP in a deep dilemma.

Lim Sue Goan, Sin Chew Daily

Many people are beginning to slam DAP the way they did to MCA prior to GE14.

This points to the fact that even the supporters of DAP are getting very mad at the party now.

Thanks to Pakatan Harapan’s “taking care of the Malays’ feelings” undertone, DAP has suffered immeasurable damage from the powerful backlash among non-Malays in the country.

The local Chinese community has taken the brunt more than once: from the generalization that Chinese are mostly well off, to deferred recognition of UEC certificate, bumi empowerment agenda and matriculation quota, but nothing hurts the Chinese community more than the inclusion of Jawi calligraphy or Seni Khat in Year Four BM textbooks for vernacular schools.

The emotion has finally exploded. A Chinese man pelted eggs at a DAP state assemblyman’s service center, while Selangor DAP Veterans Club chairman Liew Ah Kim said he felt dejected that the party had failed to defend the last bastion of Chinese education in the country.

Chinese education has always been the cultural fortress of the Malaysian Chinese community. When they were in the opposition, DAP leaders had exploited many educational issues to blast BN and MCA. But why has the party suddenly become so insensitive to such issues now that it is comfortably seated in Putrajaya? Is it because they made a wrong judgment, thinking all Chinese Malaysians are diehard DAP fans?

To the local Chinese community, Chinese language education is uncompromisable; not even DAP can trifle with such a solemn issue.

This explains why when the party’s Veteran Leader Lim Kit Siang claimed that his Chineseness was not any less when he picked up Jawi during ISA detention in 1969 and that learning of Jawi had made him more Malaysian, the response from the Chinese community has been largely negative.

In order to terminate the BN hegemony and kleptocracy, Lim Kit Siang went south to contest in Johor six years ago. His decision later not to join the new cabinet won him tremendous applause from Malaysians. But unfortunately the party has now lost the respect it has earned so hard from the local Chinese community all these years.

There has been this conspiracy theory that PPBM is trying to find fault with DAP — which won the overwhelming support of 95% of Chinese voters, 42 parliamentary and 109 state seats in last year’s general elections -– by exploiting the UEC and Lynas issues in an attempt to disunite DAP while warning the party not to side Anwar Ibrahim in the succession issue.

It will be a very sad development if such a claim is proven real, because DAP has indeed contributed remarkably to PH’s victory in the election.

Umno and PAS are more than happy to fan the emotion, and as such, when PPBM’s education minister Maszlee Malik was having a dialogue with top management from the Chinese media recently, he advertently shunned questions on Jawi calligraphy.

The Jawi issue could split up DAP, and the key lies with the party’s stand in handling major issues pertinent to the Chinese community.

The DAPSY elections late last year exposed the two opposing factions within the party, one that advocates a more liberal approach in winning the support of the Malays and the other that insists to adhere to the party’s guiding principles and core values.

How should DAP position itself within the PH government? The party’s leaders have stressed that they are Malaysians first and will not protrude their Chinese identity. This is indeed a very noble aspiration but unfortunately it simply doesn’t work at this juncture.

In Malaysia, the identity priority for the Malays and non-Malays alike has always been their own ethnicities. They give priority to issues related to their own communities, and view issues of other communities as potential threats to their rights.

As such, whenever the PH government is handling an issue from the perspectives of race, non-Malays will instantly feel that they have been neglected or unfairly treated, and such a negative sentiment is putting DAP in a deep dilemma.

Without freeing itself from the bondage of racism, PH’s “Malaysia for Malaysians” aspiration will remain just an inaccessible dream.

Under the prevailing racist undertone, even if DAP is becoming more liberal, it will never win the favor of the Malay community but may lose its fundamental Chinese support instead.

The party will still have to face a whole lot of tests and trials in the days to come, including the rare earth plant issue, UEC recognition and the Teoh Beng Hock case, among others.

DAP has pledged to solve all these problems but if it fails again, it will invariably subject itself to merciless public censure.

The party cannot look to Anwar’s ascension as prime minister for salvation. It now needs to seek the support of PKR and Amanah to turn the minority voice in the PH coalition into a majority force.

As a matter of fact, all the component parties of PH are sitting on the same boat, and the downfall of any component could spell a major disaster for the whole coalition.

With DAP gradually losing the endorsement of Chinese voters, the Umno-PAS alliance with its increased clout among the Malay electorate could effortlessly seize the power come the next general elections.