By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
May 17, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Despite their initial shock at Tunku Aziz Tunku Ibrahim’s resignation, DAP leaders believe his sudden departure would not affect the party’s appeal to the Malay electorate.
DAP Socialist Youth chief Anthony Loke told The Malaysian Insider that the DAP has been successful so far in its quest to encourage more Malay participation within its ranks, including the recruitment and grooming of more leaders from the community.
Loke said the DAP would have to live by Tunku Aziz’s quitting and respected his decision.
“Even though there will be a small setback, the party’s momentum will not be affected, even when it comes to reaching out to Malay members,” he said when contacted.
The Rasah MP pointed out that when Tunku Aziz decided to withdraw from seeking a reappointment of his senatorship, the latter was replaced by another Malay leader — Prof Dr Ariffin Omar, a 63-year-old academician who lectures at the National Defence University of Malaysia.
“We have more Malay participation now. And even though he left, his replacement is also a Malay leader of great prominence.
“And there will be many other Malay leaders to emerge in the future,” Loke said.
He said the DAP’s candidate line-up in the coming polls was also likely to include a good number of credible and notable personalities from the Malay community.
“It is regrettable that he took this decision… but we have to live by it and respect it. We will move forward from this,” Loke added.
Zairil Khir Johari, political secretary to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, appeared to echo the same sentiment as Loke, saying that the departure of one party member should not affect the party’s direction or morale.
“I do not think it (Tunku Aziz’s resignation) will have any problem in whatever we are doing. We will continue the same outreach programmes.
“The machinery will continue to run… in that sense, there is no difference. Our recruitment of Malay members does not depend solely on one or two members in the party,” he pointed out.
Zairil, son of the late Tan Sri Khir Johari, is himself among the fresh batch of Malay leaders who recently chose to join the Chinese-dominated DAP, which has been trying hard to shake off its anti-Malay tag by beefing up its Malay membership.
Zairil said the departure of one party member should not affect the party’s direction or morale. DAP deputy secretary-general Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham also cited Ariffin’s appointment as an example of the party’s spreading influence within the Malay electorate and said that more from the community have expressed interest.
“We even have Malay members wanting to form a Malay DAP branch.
“So from here, you know that we are not a Chinese-based or communist party as alleged,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
But Ngeh hoped that Tunku Aziz would reconsider his quit decision, admitting that the leader’s presence would help boost Malay participation within the DAP somewhat.
“Anything negative that happens to a party, to a certain extent, would affect the people’s view of that party, of course,” he said.
Agreeing with Ngeh, DAP vice-chairman Chong Chieng Jen noted that every member in the party wields his or her own influence, within any one community.
“But we will move on, although we were all very shocked about his decision,” he said, adding that it was uncharacteristic of the usually mild-mannered Tunku Aziz to take such drastic action.
The DAP has tried to reach out to the Malays, who make up 60 per cent of the 12-million strong electorate, by recruiting leaders such as Tunku Aziz.
But the founding member of Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M), who quit the DAP on Monday after his public spat over Bersih 3.0 with party leaders, has conceded his failure to win over the community to the Chinese-dominated party that has been accused by Umno of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam.