GEORGE TOWN,Mar 24 – If the turnout at the recent DAP conventions is anything to go by, the party is still very much in the people’s hearts and minds.
This is despite the fall of the Pakatan Harapan administration last year, when coalition defectors joined Barisan Nasional and PAS lawmakers to form a backdoor government.
Penang DAP deputy chairman P. Ramasamy said the party, in spite of detractors’ claims, brings excitement to the cause of serving the country.
DAP is the party with the largest presence in Parliament, firmly holding on to 42 seats despite overtures made to its MPs to jump ship.
Nevertheless, said Ramasamy, more needs to be done to ensure DAP has trustworthy allies, so as to convince voters that the party can continue to play a major part in nation-building.
Ensuring it has good partners, however, is no easy task when DAP is currently engulfed in political uncertainty.
The Malay ground has fragmented into five segments: the liberals in PKR, religious hardliners in PAS, Amanah’s religious moderates, and the far right in both Bersatu and Umno.
“DAP has ties with all except Umno,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Sivamurugan Pandian.
The political scientist said the party must reform in line with the evolving political landscape, which may worsen due to Covid-19 and the ensuing economic downturn.
Among Indians, DAP has earned the respect of a segment of the community.
In Penang, 25% of the party’s delegates are Indians, with a record 13 leaders from the community seeking a seat in the state committee.
Perak chapter deputy chief and Batu Gajah MP V. Sivakumar, meanwhile, said DAP has become the party of choice for Indians.
“It is reflective of what the political currents have become,” said Ramasamy.
“MIC and Gerakan, as well as smaller Indian parties, no longer have the draw.
“You can say the Malays are the dominant group, but lest we forget, about 40% of the country’s population are non-Bumiputeras, who are worried about where the country is heading.”
Results from the DAP polls in three states showed Lim Guan Eng maintaining a firm grip on the party’s top post.
Selangor is the last chapter to hold elections on June 5, before the national-level central executive committee vote later the same month.
After close to 15 years as secretary-general, Guan Eng, 60, is poised to step up as chairman, a path that his father, Lim Kit Siang, took two decades ago.
Despite the emergence of new talent in the past 20 years, Guan Eng and Kit Siang have institutionalised themselves as DAP’s revered leaders, more so with the death of the legendary Karpal Singh.
Guan Eng’s key allies won in all three states – Perak, Kedah and Penang – in the recent party polls, which also saw his sister, Lim Hui Ying, taking the post of secretary in the Penang contest.
In Perak, Nga Kor Ming retained his position as chapter chairman, and lawyer Tan Kok Yew did the same in Kedah.
Penang saw Kit Siang’s former political secretary, Chow Kon Yeow, emerging victorious despite the presence of warlords and rival factions.
However, it is not all a bed of roses for Guan Eng, who is facing corruption charges in court. – The Vibes