The 16th DAP National Congress the next two days is the focus of national attention for more reasons than one, viz:
• It is the last national conference this year for any political party in Malaysia;
• In fact, it is the last national conference for any political party before the 13th General Elections which would be held in the next 100 days;
• DAP is the only political party in the country which dares to hold party elections on the eve of impending general elections, as all other political parties have postponed their party elections until after the elections;
• Will the DAP emerge stronger or weaker after the 16th DAP National Congress;
• Will Pakatan Rakyat and the cause for “UBAH” to effect political change in Malaysia all the way to Putrajaya be strengthened or weakened?
In the past month, Pakatan Rakyat suffered a serious setback when the four million middle-ground voters who will be the arbiter as to whether it is the Pakatan Rakyat or the Barisan Nasional which will appoint the Prime Minister and form the government in Putrajaya after the 13GE developed doubts and hesitations as to whether Pakatan Rakyat parties of PKR, PAS and DAP are fully committed to the PR Common Policy Framework and Buku Jingga common platforms.
This is a salutary lesson to all the component Pakatan Rakyat parties that in the “hot-house atmosphere” which will further intensify with the approach of the long-awaited 13th General Elections, that they must always be conscious that every statement and action not only of the national leaders but of the other echeleons can have an impact many times larger than ordinary times when exploited and distorted by unscrupulous and unprincipled political propagandists with their biased mainstream media.
The Kelantan gender-segregation ruling affecting non-Muslim hair salons is a case in point where on the one and same issue, DAP is accused of being “subservient” to PAS while PAS is accused of compromising to “appease” the DAP.
It is a lie that DAP leaders are afraid of PAS leaders, just as it is a lie that PAS leaders are afraid of DAP leaders. It is also a lie that the Malays or the Chinese will be oppressed under the PR government, for the PR parties of PKR, PAS and DAP are committed to serve the best interests of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.
Our relationship in PR, together with PKR, is one of equals where we respect each other’s views and differences. This is why DAP leaders have communicated our stand on the Kelantan hair salons controversy to the PAS leadership right from the very beginning, although we did not announce it in the media.
But this is not adequate to win the support of the four million middle-ground voters if we are to succeed in effecting a change of government in Putrajaya, as we have to convince them that the three parties in Pakatan Rakyat are fully committed to uphold the principles and platforms that unite us as stated in the PR Common Policy Framework and Buku Jingga while putting aside our historic ideological differences.
DAP stands for a secular state while PAS is in the diametrically opposite pole on hudud – but we agree to disagree in the interests of upholding democracy; restoring the independence of key national institutions whether the judiciary, the civil service, police, the election commission, the anti-corruption agency or the Attorney-General’s office; ensuring justice and prosperity for all Malaysians; promoting national unity and inter-religious harmony; and establishing good governance by declaring an all-out war against corruption.
The basis of DAP reaching out, engaging and co-operating with PAS in Pakatan Rakyast is not on Islamic state or hudud, but on the principles of promoting democracy, pluralism, cultural diversity, human rights, women’s rights and development in Malaysia.
Malaysia is at the historic cross-roads in the forthcoming 13th General Election – whether to perpetuate UMNO hegemony and one-coalition state or to change the political landscape by initiating a two-coalition system to signify the advent of a more mature and healthy form of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia.
The 16th DAP National Congress also has a date with history – not only as the most momentous in the party’s 46-year history but also in the 55-year history of Malaysia.
It appears to be easier for UMNO/BN to regain its two-thirds majority in 13 GE than for Pakatan Rakyat to reach Putrajaya, for UMNO/BN need to win another eight seats from the 140 it won in the 2008 General Elections.
Pakatan Rakyat has a longer distance to cover to reach its objective, as the three PR parties must win at least another 30 seats than they won in 2008 to cross the hurdle to win the parliamentary majority of 112 seats in the 13th general election.
But to be a secure, viable and durable federal government, PR cannot just have a simple majority of one in Parliament, but must reach out to win a larger and more solid parliamentary majority in the 13th GE.
This is an uphill, even herculean, but not impossible task.
Let the 16th DAP National Congress sound the call to arms for the “Hundred Days to Putrajaya” campaign for a Pakatan Rakyat government in Putrajaya with 125 PR seats in Parliament with distribution of 45:40:40 seats respectively for PKR, PAS and DAP.
The secret to a successful “Hundred Days to Putrajaya” Campaign by Pakatan Rakyat will hinge on our ability to win over the four million middle ground/swing voters by focusing on national issues of importance, including PR’s greater ability:
• to manage and reduce corruption in the country;
• to show a new path towards genuine national unity and inter-racial harmony;
• to govern more equitably with social justice and economic efficiency;
• to reduce poverty among the native population in Sabah and Sarawak and bring more sustainable development to both of these states; and
• to usher in a new era of governance where democracy is developed and deepened.
(Eve-of-16th DAP National Congress message on Friday, 14th December 2012)