The Change that Changed DAP

Change in the dictionary generally means “the process or end result of becoming different.

When people talks about change, we are always hoping to change for the better. That is what Malaysians were hoping for in the governance of the nation. We wanted a more transparent, effective, progressive and a better government.

It was that hope for a change that has mobilized probably a historic voter turnout in the 2013 general elections.

It was the ‘Ubah’ spirit that DAP has instilled in many people; that has urged our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to come out and vote.

There were many first-time voters; there were many who drove back to their hometowns to vote; and there were also many who flew back to Malaysia to fulfill their responsibilities as voters. All for the hope of change.

The word ‘change’ in government can be very subjective and have different interpretations. Change can possibly mean a change of leaders. It can also mean a change of different political party governing the nation. Or it means a change of new, progressive ways of governing the nation irrespective of who wins the elections.

Recent happenings on several issues has incited doubts in how people perceived ‘change’ as campaigned by the DAP.

There were cases where DAP’s actions contradicts with what they have fought for in the Parliament.
One of the obvious contradictions can be seen when we compare the Malaysia Stadium Corporation Act which was passed in 2010 in the Parliament and the Penang Stadium and Open Area Enactment that was passed in the State Assembly last May. Both the act and the enactment are pretty much similar which is to further improve the management of sports facilities with the exception of a few sections. The main difference though is that one is a federal law, and the other is a state law.

When the Malaysia Stadium Corporation Act was tabled in the Parliament in 2010, the then DAP Seremban MP, John Fernandez questioned the absolute power of the Minister in appointing the Chairman of the Stadium Corporation; but in Penang, the Chief Minister is the Chairman of the Penang Stadium and Open Area Corporation himself.

In the same Parliament motion, YB Ngeh Koo Ham of DAP objected for the section of the “protection from legal actions” in the Malaysia Stadium Corporation Act; but in Penang, the DAP-led state Government passes a similar law with the section that includes protection from personal liability.
There was so much irony on what they have campaigned for ‘change’, but they were practicing the same thing that they have objected for in the Federal Government.

There is probably one change in the enactment though is that the DAP-led State Government added an “Open Area” as the responsibility of the corporation, which would mean the Chairman who is also the Chief Minister having even more power towards the lands of Penang despite there are already controversies in regards to land matters.

There were also many occasions where we see how the DAP objected when it was the act of the Barisan Nasional, but was considered noble when it is the act of the DAP.

Freedom of Information and speech was one of the agendas when the DAP campaigned in the election. They have also boasted their action when they passed the Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment in Penang. Today, it seems that the FOI has become a tool to hide documents rather than opening it up. Gerakan has applied to gain access to over 20 documents but we never gain access to any one of it.

The Federal Government was accused of selling the nation to China when huge investments were brought into the country; but when the Penang Government applied for loan from China, it was claimed that it was for the best interest of the state.

The DAP was so against the UMNO that they have vowed not to award the state projects to companies owned by UMNO members. Few weeks back, Zarul Ahmad, the chairman of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd which was awarded to build an undersea tunnel and three major roads in Penang admitted that he is an UMNO member.

There are other ironies, such as the open tender in state government projects, the public car park charges, restoring local government elections, cleaner, greener and many others.

It is not about the right or wrong regarding the decisions on the said issues; but it is a matter of the meaning of ‘change’ is perceived by the DAP.

Yes, there is indeed change, the DAP changed.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 30th June 2017.

Recuperating Malaysian politics

The year is almost at its end, and we have seen the politics in Malaysia has been upheaval and full of drama. Many unexpected political incidents that was never thought of before has happened in 2016.

Internationally, Donald Trump who began the campaign as a joke is now elected as the next US President winning against the favourites Hillary Clinton. In the east, the South Koreans decided to impeach their President. Back nearby to us, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte who was elected this year made many controversial and daring decisions whether locally or internationally.

Malaysia politics has also been exciting throughout the year seeing the political landscape that has changed.

In the early of the year, we witnessed the rift in UMNO has widen with Dato’ Seri Mukhriz Mahathir relinquishing his position as Menteri Besar of Kedah and replaced by Dato’ Seri Ahmad Bashah.

Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yassin then was suspended as Deputy President of UMNO for his continued open criticism of the party leadership. Then we saw Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad quitting UMNO and subsequently launched and signed the Malaysian Citizens’ Declaration to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib. Ironically, it was done together with his longtime political enemies.

It was followed by the sacking of Muhiyiddin and Mukhriz from UMNO while Shafie Apdal was suspended. This results with Shafie Apdal quitting the party few weeks later.

Ensuing all this ‘sacking and quitting’ episode, the former PM Tun Mahathir formed a new political party, ‘Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’ with Tan Sri Muhiyiddin as the President.

It was also bewilderment to many, seeing Mahathir joining the rally organised directly or indirectly by the Pakatan Harapan. In the early April, the anti-GST rally and not so long ago, the Bersih rally.

At the end of the year, we see two political rivals competing for the same pool of Muslim voters sharing the same stage in the name of championing for Rohingya rights. On the same day itself, another two bitter political rivals also shared the same stage with Tun Dr. Mahathir attended the DAP annual national conference in Shah Alam.

Concluding the incidents happened around 2016, the main agenda of politics of today is about survival. With the political uncertainty that has awakens many politicians since 2008, it made them realizes that power is not permanent. Changes of power is possible in Malaysia and in any part of the world. It was then that political parties took measures to ensure their survival or to be objective, to make sure they continue to win the elections.

To me, the most ironic incident is the remarks that Tun Dr M has made towards the DAP. With all due respect to the contributions he has made to the nation, these remarks has made us seen the ‘political animal’ side of him.

Dr. Mahathir, who had once described DAP as “racist and anti-Malay” told the DAP members at its’ annual convention that he was badly wrong about the DAP. Some of the leaders were even jailed during his administration as the PM. He has also mentioned the party anthem of DAP which is in national language shows its multiracialism.

The comments by the former PM is so ironic that for 22 years he leads the nation and has been condemning the DAP since its formation; and all of a sudden he realised that he was so badly wrong about the party. By saying this, does he mean that for 22 years in his leadership, he was wrong about DAP?

And for DAP especially Lim Kit Siang who has been attacking Mahathir for that same amount of years; who has campaigned to ‘save Malaysia’ from the Barisan Nasional administration under the then Tun Dr M. Today, they sat together and forged a ‘partnership’ to save Malaysia?

On the other side, Dato’ Seri Najib brought together two Malay-Muslim majority party together for a religious cause; despite being rivals politically.

It is apparent that today, political survival is a priority to many political parties and politicians. Most of them are no longer putting the survival of the people as the priority instead. Without a doubt, there are also many decisions that have been made to ensure the people’s survival. But we have to start pondering whether which is the priority.

Are the political leaders trying to survive politically first then only to ensure the survival of the people? Or are the political leaders first to make sure the people survive so they can survive politically?

Many Malaysians is in the opinion that politics has become very individualistic whereby it is merely about the politicians’ or the political parties’ gain rather than a cause for the general Malaysians. Many see that the politics is sick now and needs recuperation.

Today, we need a fresh political mentality for youth especially for upcoming young politicians. In this coming year, let us set a resolution to bring in and innovate politics to a healthy and constructive one. We need a resolution to be better together.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 16th December 2016.