The MCA-fication of the DAP

The democratic principles of the former opposition party have been compromised by careerism and opportunism.

Kua Kia Soong, Free Malaysia Today

The generation that has seen DAP’s trolling of MCA leaders (for wearing the songkok, among other things) throughout the post-independence years must be chuckling at the way the two political parties have now changed roles.

And the picture of Lim Kit Siang wearing an ill-fitting songkok over his helmet of hair accepting an honorific “Tan Sri” – something DAP said they would never ever do (“unlike the MCA leaders…”) just about sums up this comic transformation of Malaysian politics.

If an apology is all it takes for the DAP leaders to assume their new role as the lesser partner of Umno, that seems like a small price to pay for the historic compromise they have made in terms of hanging up their past manifestos to dry in the Malaysian sun.

Their great leader even went so far as to negate all that he had said about Mahathir (“I never said Mahathir was corrupt!”) after the great dictator made his son a minister following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the 2018 general election (GE14).

DAP’s “Malaysian Malaysia” was supposed to keep politicians out of publicly-funded investments since it leads to poor accountability but ever since GE14, they have been part of the cosy arrangement allowing politicians to actively participate in public enterprises.

The acceptance of an Umno leader facing multiple corruption charges as deputy prime minister would have been met with wild derision by the old DAP leaders. But how could they do otherwise when earlier, a top DAP leader had insisted on hanging on to his ministerial post while facing corruption charges?

‘Malaysian Malaysia’ now co-exists with ‘Malay Dominance’

The most revealing and distressing initiative of all during the brief PH rule after GE14 was the so-called “Malay Dignity Congress” with its racist resolutions and which the PH prime minister patronised, continuing the New Economic Policy in the form of the new “Shared Prosperity Vision”.

And as this short rule ambled along, it consistently failed to fulfil manifesto promises and voter expectations in numerous ways.

We witnessed the flip flops over the PH promise to abolish toxic institutions and laws, such as Sosma and other detention-without-trial laws in the country.

On top of all that, we saw a disturbing trend of autocratic decision-making and policies symptomatic of the old Mahathir 1.0 era.

Bowing to “Malay dominance”, it was equally absurd to tell Malaysian independent Chinese secondary school graduates in 2018 that their UEC certificate could only be recognised in five years’ time. This is a serious breach of promise in the PH GE14 manifesto as more than 80% of Chinese voters voted for PH because of this promised reform.

After GE15, the local government development minister from DAP said that he had more urgent things to do than implement the long-awaited local council elections.

This is perhaps the best example of the MCA-fication of the DAP. It was a typical response by MCA ministers in the bad old days when DAP would challenge MCA on their democratic principles.

The minister’s excuse of government debt as a reason to delay local government elections, which have been suspended in our country since 1965, is not acceptable.

Reintroducing local government elections is a simple matter of abolishing a provision under the Local Government Act 1976 and reviving the Local Government Election Act. What could be more urgent and easily accomplished than that to give Malaysians the basic democratic right they won at independence in 1957?

Time for a new progressive democratic opposition

Having gone through the “Two Front System”, we ended up in 2018 with the same autocrat who tried to implement the policies he had introduced in 1981.

The MCA-fication of the DAP has shown that the democratic principles of the former opposition party have been compromised by careerism and opportunism, “the new reality”.

Clearly, it is time for all who have hoped for real reforms in Malaysia to build a new progressive democratic opposition for a truly just, democratic, and sustainable future that BN, PH and PN have failed to provide.

These include:

  • Ending racism & racial discrimination in Malaysia, principally an end to the racially discriminatory New Economic Policy.
  • Needs-based and not race-based policies.
  • Wealth redistribution for the 99% including progressive fiscal policies to tax the top 1%, such as higher marginal tax rates on income, capital gains, inheritance, and luxuries.
  • Affordable public housing, health, transport & education, including a living wage and rights for all workers, a reasonable pension at retirement for all, and free tertiary education (means tested for the well-off).
  • Reclaiming our public assets from privatisation, especially nationalising public utilities, such as water and energy, and democratising the GLCs.