DAP-UMNO’s unlikely romance not as easy as it seems to achieve

Bernie Yeo, Focus Malaysia

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng recently said that DAP is willing to cooperate with UMNO for the people’s benefit.

The cooperation is possible, according to Lim, but it will be on an ad hoc basis. He has, however, made it very clear that there will be no political cooperation with the Malay-centric party in the upcoming general election.

Well, fine. There are no permanent enemies, and no permanent friends only permanent interests when it comes to politics anyway. If anything, political pundits would be quick to agree that stranger things have happened when it comes to Malaysian politics.

While the collaboration between DAP and UMNO sounds like a good idea for the sake of the people, to say that I have mixed feelings about the unlikely romance is the understatement of the year.

After all, both parties have been political rivals for as long as anyone can remember, and a few discussions and meetings to discuss people’s issues isn’t going to be enough to overcome decades’ worth of animosity and the clash in ideologies.

While UMNO has always upheld Malay nationalism, DAP’s democratic socialism ideology promotes the ideals of a “Malaysian Malaysia”.

I imagine that plenty of grassroots from both ends of the political divide, too, have strong feelings about their parties working together, even if it is to go up against a common enemy.

Furthermore, wasn’t it in early January 2021 when UMNO’s information chief Shahril Hamdan reiterated that the party had no intention of working with DAP?

Had UMNO wanted to collaborate with DAP, said Shahril in a statement, it had the best opportunity to do so during the replacement of the Perak menteri besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu, but that did not happen.

If anything, this goes to show how easily political allegiances ebb and shift, depending on the circumstances. If not careful, this tie-up could possibly end up becoming a political disaster in the making.

At the end of the day, the biggest question remains: will DAP and UMNO really be able to set aside their political differences to work together for the common good, or would this be another instance of ‘all talk and no action’?

There is, unfortunately, no straightforward answer to this, I’m afraid.