Will DAP be a viable alternative for disgruntled UMNO leaders?

THE political options for rejected UMNO leaders seems to have opened up. Rather than considering only existing Malay political parties, the door to DAP is now wide open to them.

UMNO and DAP are no more mortal political enemies. In wanting to improve its image in the eyes of the Malays, DAP has no qualms of embracing UMNO. In the spirit of the unity government, the tainted nature of UMNO is no longer a concern to DAP.

Within the political realm of Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN), it makes more sense for unhappy UMNO members to join DAP given joining Bersatu or PAS is out of the question. Certainly, PKR is not a serious option for disgruntled UMNO members.

DAP leaders will obviously welcome Malays with open arms to show that the party is genuinely multi-racial in character. Malay membership is presently so minuscule that the DAP would not think twice of accepting Malay members.

Henceforth, the case of two UMNO leaders in Parit, Perak who recently resigned from UMNO to join DAP might be illustrative of the desperate need for DAP to increase its Malay membership.

Yesterday (Oct 23), Abdul Mukmin Abd Rashid, the deputy head of UMNO Titi Gantung branch and Rosman Esa, head of UMNO Pekan Parit branch alongside eight other UMNO members handed their applications to Tarmizi Mohd. Jam, chairman of the DAP parliament Parit.

When asked why he chose DAP, Abdul Mukmin said that having lost twice to win the post of UMNO youth leader for the UMNO Parit division, he had no choice but to turn to DAP. He further contended that by joining DAP, he might have the political platform to raise societal issues.

Two former UMNO leaders in Perak joined DAP yesterday (Oct 23)

Reality for Malay DAP members

It is strange why the two candidates could not raise issues when they were in UMNO. Was there a fall out for these two candidates within UMNO to join DAP with their followers?

It is odd that if these two leaders have no grassroots support among the Malays, how can they be an added value to the DAP – a party that is eyeing good and credible Malay leaders.

Ideally, DAP would want Malay leaders joining the party to bring along their members. Or alternatively, do they think that by joining DAP they can aspire for party posts and if possible get the opportunity to contest in the elections later?

It is nothing new that Malays are joining DAP; many Malays have joined the party in the past and many have also left. Malays constitute only a small percentage of the DAP membership.

Generally, Malays tend to avoid joining DAP because of the negative perception that it is anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

Of all the political parties in the country, DAP is the most demonised political party. It stand on racial equality, secularism and a balanced approach to Malaysian politics have been rejected by political parties that are ethnically and religiously exclusive.

There are some Malay elected representatives both at the state and parliament levels in DAP. By giving an opportunity to Malay candidates, DAP hopes to erase the image that the party is racially inclined.

Even though the DAP proclaims itself as multi-racial party in tandem with its policy of open membership, its brand of politics is often overshadowed by the dominant ethnic concerns.

While the party welcomes Malay membership to dilute the perception that it is a Chinese- dominated party, there are definitive limits to Malay participation and mobility in the party.

The selected DAP Malay candidates are normally given seats in the non-Malay or Chinese dominated constituencies. It would be near impossible for them to win in Malay constituencies.

It will certainly be a litmus test for DAP if the party could place its Malay candidates in Malay majority constituencies.

That few Malays have joined DAP is obviously no cause of celebration for the party. The Malays who joined the party might have their particular reasons but I doubt whether they are ready to subscribe to the notion of Malaysian Malaysia.

DAP might not harp on this theme but it is still very much part of its constitution. – Oct 24, 2023


Former deputy chief minister II of Penang and ex-Perai state assemblyman Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy was also a former Penang Development Corporation (PDC) board member.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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