WHILE Pakatan Harapan (PH) is the anchor political coalition of the present government on the basis of strong non-Malay support, there are serious doubts whether the coalition can defend and advance the collective interests of the non-Malays.
The non-Malay support for the present government is through DAP and PKR. These two are termed as multi-racial political parties different from ethnic political parties such as the MCA and MIC.
Both the ethnic communities have eventually abandoned MCA and MIC by having jumped ship to participate in the politics of DAP and PKR before the 2008 general elections. For the last 15 years or so, the non-Malay political support for DAP and PKR is pretty much intact.
However, whether the non-Malays will continue to maintain their loyalty to PH remains to be seen. There are already discernible signs of non-Malay dissatisfaction with DAP and PKR in the PH coalition.
Ironically, the lack of Malay-Muslim support for the unity government is the prime reason why the PH-Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has abandoned the non-Malays. Moving away from the non-Malays doesn’t mean that the unity government could win back the Malay support.
DAP, PKR have become toothless?
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s global championing of the Palestinian plight might give him strong international credentials. But whether such a move will endear himself to Malay-Muslims in the country remains to be seen or for that matter, the non-Malays is doubtful.
Non-Malays might put up with the unity government under the difficult circumstances of no Malay-Muslim support. But the continued appeasement of the non-Malay leadership in the DAP and to some extent in PKR might be serious source of contention.
In the last one year or less there are indications that all is not well with the non-Malay support for PH. What are the reasons?
DAP and PKR are not the same political parties when they were in the opposition. As opposition parties, they were in a position to raise issues boldly and forthrightly particularly on non-Malay issues.
In fact, DAP not so much PKR was regarded as the defender and protector of the non-Malays. It was under these circumstances that non-Malay rights were articulated without fear and favour.
However, things changed after both the political parties formed governments at the state levels and recently at the federal level. Once these political parties became part of the state and federal governments, they had to adjust their policies.
It was a matter of time before once the vociferous DAP became infatuated with power and positions by becoming the defender of government policies immaterial of their impact on the non-Malays.
Supporting government policies means invariably lending credence and legitimacy to policies and measures that served the interests of the majoritarian community.
The unity government of Anwar has the backing of 40 DAP MPs in the Parliament. Yet DAP has not been rewarded with positions in the government commensurate with the political support.
The unacceptable part was the position of DAP not to impose unacceptable demands on the new unity government. By taking such a compromising role, DAP failed to listen to the sentiments and feelings of its grassroots members and supporters.
How can the DAP play an effective role in safeguarding and advancing the interests of the non-Malays if it is obsequious to government policies that are overwhelmingly considered pro-Malay-Muslim?
Chinese to follow Indians?
DAP might boast of having 40 MPs in the Parliament but the unthinking support for the unity government means among things, the sure but a fundamental neglect of the interests and concerns of the non-Malays.
A keen political observer will notice that DAP has basically abandoned many of the issues that were crucial to the non-Malays or non-Muslims in the country in the recent past.
Just like the MCA, MIC and Gerakan, DAP has become a yes-man to the majoritarian politics of the Anwar government.
Anwar’s politics of race and religion seems not to be checkmated by DAP. The party is more interested in disciplining its own vociferous members from showing their dissatisfaction.
In the last state elections, it was clear some segments of the Indian community deserted both DAP and PKR to support the opposition.
Next time around, it will be wonder if the deserted Indians will return to the fold of PH. It is only a matter of time before the Chinese start thinking of remaining within the fold of PH or not.
It is the fear of Perikatan Nasional (PN) especially PAS coming to federal power that prevents the Chinese in thinking otherwise of shifting their political allegiance. Right now, they might think that DAP is their saviour and protector.
But unfortunately, they don’t realise that by using PAS as the bogeyman, DAP has done nothing to give confidence to the non-Malays in particular the Chinese. In contrast, the Indians – perhaps since they have nothing much to lose – are willing to listen to what PN has to offer to them.
It is not that the Chinese community is entrapped by the narrow politics of the DAP or PH. If they deserted the MCA once, they could desert DAP and PKR under propitious circumstances.
The unity or Madani government is big let-down for the non-Malays. – Nov 19, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy was the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He was also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Pics credit: Liew Chin Tong’s Facebook