DAP has always opposed Islam from the beginning

It took 20 years from 1998 to 2018 to convince the Malays that DAP is a friend to the Malays-Muslims. It took just one year to convince the Malays that DAP is an enemy to the Malays-Muslims. And it is going to take more than 20 years to change that perception.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Democratic Action Party or DAP was formed by Singapore’s People’s Action Party or PAP after Singapore split from Malaysia in 1965. Its purpose was to continue PAP’s opposition to Umno and the Alliance Party of Umno, MCA and MIC.

It was basically a Malay versus non-Malay or Muslim versus non-Muslim agenda. And this resulted in the May 1969 a.k.a. “May 13” race riots four years later. Playing the race and religion card does have its consequences, as history has proven.

Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew was behind the formation of DAP in 1965

Since “May 13”, DAP was forced to tone down its anti-Malay and anti-Islam rhetoric and use more subtle methods lest a backlash against the Chinese is triggered. But DAP has never abandoned its anti-Islam agenda, and by extension its anti-Malay agenda as well.

In the post-May 13 period of the 1970s, life was less complicated. DAP operated in the Chinese heartland in the West Coast of West Malaysia (and the Chinese towns in Sabah and Sarawak) while PAS, DAP’s adversary, operated in the Malay heartland of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis where the Malay population exceeded 80-90%.

However, in 1981, PAS began to spread its wings through the effort of its current President, Abdul Hadi Awang. No longer was PAS going to be just a kampung party. It was going to make its presence felt in the urban areas and on the West Coast of West Malaysia, and maybe even in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

DAP realised that times were changing. Politics can never be just Chinese versus Malays, or non-Muslims versus Muslims like in the 1960s and 1970s. There must be some form of multi-racial coalition where DAP could use the Malay voter base to win federal power. If not, DAP would remain just a noisy opposition or a barking dog — an anjing menyalak bukit, as the Malays would say.

In 1990, Ku Li’s Semangat 46 formed the Gagasan Rakyat coalition with DAP on condition it did not include PAS

In 1988, when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah a.k.a. Ku Li launched his anti-Umno party (or rather his anti-Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad party), Semangat 46, DAP contemplated an alliance with it.

DAP knew that a direct confrontation with the Malays-Muslims of Umno and PAS would get them nowhere. They knew they needed to use Malays to fight Malays or Muslims to fight Muslims. This was precisely how the Christian West destroyed the Muslim Ottoman Empire, they used Muslims to do it.

Hence, in 1990, DAP entered into an Alliance with Semangat 46, which they called Gagasan Rakyat. But DAP did not want to have anything to do with PAS. So Semangat 46 had to form a separate alliance with PAS, which they called Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah or APU.

DAP made it very clear they would never agree to sit at the same table with PAS, let alone sleep in the same bed. Karpal Singh even once said PAS can implement Islamic laws “over my dead body.”

Such was DAP’s hatred for PAS and Islam.

Dr Hatta Ramli issued a public promise in November 1999 that PAS would not push for an Islamic State or Hudud before DAP would agree to join the Barisan Alternatif coalition

When Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim clashed in September 1998, and Parti Keadilan Nasional (now called PKR) was formed in April 1999, DAP did not commit itself to Anwar, especially since Anwar had the support of PAS (because of his close and personal relationship with the then PAS President, Fadzil Noor).

It was not until six months later that DAP agreed to an alliance with PKN and PAS. But it had to be on the condition that PAS publicly promise it would not push for an Islamic state or Islamic laws, such as Hudud, if the opposition ever came to power.

PAS leader Dr Hatta Ramli then issued a public statement promising that whatever decision the opposition coalition agreed on must be based on consensus or unanimous decision, and that PAS would never push for an Islamic state or Islamic laws unless mutually agreed upon by all coalition partners.

However, in the November 1999 general election, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh lost their seats. The Chinese were clearly punishing them for forming an alliance with PAS. In 2001, DAP broke off with PAS and PKR, and in the 2004 general election contested as an independent party.

Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang lost their seats in the 1999 general election because of DAP’s alliance with PAS

In the 1999 general election, in partnership with PKR and PAS, DAP won 10 seats against 830,870 votes. In the 2004 general election, as an independent party, DAP won 12 seats but against only 702,243 votes. And considering the number of voters had increased by more than 500,000, DAP actually did worse.

So, in the 2008 general election, DAP went back into an alliance with PKR and PAS. This time DAP did much better with 28 seats against more than one million votes. And this was because DAP managed to convince the Chinese voters they were just using the Malays to fight the Malays.

DAP improved even further in the 2013 general election where they won 38 seats against 1,736,267 votes. The Chinese voters were convinced that the “use Malays to fight Malays” strategy was working, plus many Malays also voted for DAP.

Then came “the big one” in 2018. But that was mainly because Umno was split and the Malays were divided into six parties, plus Mahathir was heading the opposition push.

Pakatan Harapan won the 2018 general election because Mahathir split Umno and the Malays were divided into six parties

But that has now changed. The “use Malays to fight Malays” strategy can no longer work and the Malays no longer support DAP, or any coalition that includes DAP, like they did in 2018. Today, it is perpaduan ummah or Malay-Muslim unity, plus ABCD or “Asal Bukan Cina DAP”.

Most Malays are convinced that DAP’s agenda is anti-Malay and anti-Islam. Whatever strategy DAP comes up with is never going to change the perception that DAP is anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

It took 20 years from 1998 to 2018 to convince the Malays that DAP is a friend to the Malays-Muslims. It took just one year to convince the Malays that DAP is an enemy to the Malays-Muslims. And it is going to take more than 20 years to change that perception.