By Dominic Tham
WHEN it comes to political absurdities, Malaysians have grown rather desensitised. A two-time Prime Minister who’s also then the world’s oldest government leader? Check. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim kiss-and-make-up in 2018 after a two-decade feud? Done. A disgraced ex-premier convicted of corruption and sentenced to jail but now riding high on a popular wave? Impressive.
But one possible development may yet push the envelope of political bizarreness, even by Malaysian standards: Umno and the DAP joining forces in the polls. If it comes to pass, it’d be the high watermark in the maxim “politics is the art of making the impossible possible”.
For decades, the DAP has made itself out to be the saviour for the downtrodden, while Umno is portrayed as the party that enriches its leaders, while they spew racial-religious soundbites that stoke sentiments to win votes.
Even if both parties were to set aside their differences, it is very unlikely that Umno, so used to being the alpha party since Independence until 2018, would ever be willing to share a cake with the Chinese-dominant party, whom the former had vilified for the longest time.
While DAP has always projected itself a multi-racial party, it is at its core, a Chinese-dominated party, despite a handful of Malay and Indian members, some of whom were given token, or window-dressing leadership roles.
Also, it is rather surprising that DAP has not learnt its lesson, after its bitter experience with Dr Mahathir in Pakatan Harapan (PH). After all, maverick Dr Mahathir’s political DNA can be traced to Umno, the party he had been most of his life and led for 22 years.
It didn’t take long for his racial streak to surface after PH won the watershed election, much to the simmering frustration of leaders in the DAP during the coalition’s 22-month in Putrajaya.
DAP has for as long as anyone can recall, blamed Umno for the nation’s woes, and it is rather startling that they are now willing to sleep with the enemy – again. Has it not learnt its lessons?
Even when the MCA and MIC were coalition partners with Umno in the Barisan Nasional government, the former’s leaders were reduced to playing second fiddle and often acceded to Big Brother Umno’s Umno’s whims and fancies.
In fact, DAP had on countless occasions, especially in relation to issues related to Chinese education, ridiculed the MCA as puppets unable to stand up for the rights of the Chinese. DAP has boasted that it has been doing what MCA was supposed to for the rights and benefits of the Chinese community.
And now, despite the odds, it is truly hard to believe that DAP wants to work with Umno for the so-called betterment of the nation. There is no way Umno is ever going to accord the DAP an equal partnership if they were to work together and win the general election. It will simply be another deja vu of its experience with Dr Mahathir.
Also, DAP must look beyond the sugar and spice and everything nice – Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would work with just about anyone to get off the hook.
Najib has been convicted of a 12-year jail sentence and is appealing the corruption conviction while Zahid is facing a slew of criminal charges. Both are willing to do anything to stay out of the slammer.
The DAP should be wise enough not to be taken by the sweet promise from Umno, looking at how the MCA and MIC were treated. The DAP should instead continue its fight for the downtrodden citizens of the country and focus on working with a credible, trustworthy partner if at all, in the coming general election.
The desperation to come into power should not be a motivating force and influence one into entering a deadly partnership. Just as the DAP paid a heavy price in the 1999 general election for its co-operation with PAS under Barisan Alternatif, the voters can again teach DAP come the next poll. – May 30, 2021
Dominic Tham is a FocusM editorial contributor.
The views here are of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.