The news that 80-year old national laureate, Abdul Samad Said, popularly known as Pak Samad, will be joining DAP may come as a surprise to many, but not to some others.
It is another feather in DAP’s cap, coming after a tumultuous week of mutual incrimination between the ulama leaders who gained control of PAS and DAP leaders, following the PAS muktamar’s decision to sever ties with DAP.
Some would ask, what is it that attracts some Malays to join DAP, like the octogenarian Pak Samad, and a twenty-something Malay girl, Dyana Sofya Daud, the latter who not only joined, but who took active part in DAP politics?
Similarly, ex-Umno politician, Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, who joined DAP prior to the 13th general election and with the strong support of non-Malay voters won the parliamentary seat of Raub in Pahang.
Perhaps what attracted some Malays to join DAP is that the party has remained on course since it was established in 1966 by faithfully sticking to its mandate , i.e. to be a truly multiracial party staying above partisan politics of race and religion.
If actions speak louder than words, then the decision of the current DAP secretary-general who said some 17 years ago he would go to prison (which he did) in order to defend the modesty of an underaged Malay girl who was a victim of statutory rape, speaks for itself.
And then there is DAP’s current resolve to separate its humanitarian commitment to help rebuild the lives of mostly Malay flood victims in Kelantan (who are not at all DAP voters or supporters in any sense), from the politics of the ulama-controlled PAS to sever ties with DAP.
Just for this, although its detractors would say it was a politically smart move, DAP has nonetheless enviously earned kudos even from PAS leaders and, more importantly, from the wider Malay community in the country.
Yes, it will take time for DAP to win over the trust and confidence of Malay voters. But DAP now has the information revolution, the internet and the social media on its side in its arduous journay to win over the voting Malay community.
DAP’s challenge, however, is the rural Malay heartland, which has been, and still is, overwhelmed by PAS and Umno foot soldiers and by Umno’s control of TV and newspapers with their biased broadcast and one-sided publishing of domestic political issues.
If DAP leaders can stay on course on its stated principles of fair play for the marginalised and the disadvantaged section of Malaysian society irrespective of race and religion, while other parties still find comfort in their politics of race and religion, the party can be assured it will always be on the right side of history.
For one thing, there is only so much the politics of race and religion can save the country and an ethnic community, and a growing number of Malays have begun to realise that.
There will be plenty more hurdles for the party to cross, some battles might be lost, but its war against the politics of race and religion in Malaysia can still be won, that is, if it stays on course and remains faithful to its charter which was carved in stone in 1966.