DAP-Snap merger would break the mould

By Terence Netto
Apr 21, 11

COMMENT If a mature politics is a pattern of creative responses to society’s vast inertia and small margin for change, then the idea of a merger between DAP and Snap is one of the more stimulating propositions to emerge in recent times.

With one stroke, Alexander of Macedon solved all the mystery of the Gordian knot. A DAP-Snap merger, in one fell swoop, would break the racial mould in which Sarawak’s politics has for the last four decades been mired.

Floated by the DAP’s strategic director, Lim Kit Siang, in the immediate aftermath of his party’s redoubtable showing in the Sarawak polls last Saturday, the idea is a win-win proposition for both parties.

For the DAP, the merger would enable them to field suitable Chinese Malaysian candidates in Dayak-majority seats; as for Snap, they can commend capable Dayak candidates to stand in the urban centres in Sarawak where Chinese voters predominate and who, in the election last week, overwhelmingly preferred DAP candidates to rival, SUPP, ones.

This hypothetical cross-fielding of candidates would begin to bridge the real but unspoken gulf in Sarawak: the chasm in politics and economics that exist between the more affluent Chinese and the majority and disadvantaged Dayaks, especially the Iban.

The gulf is compounded on the one side by condescension and, on the other, by mistrust. It’s the kind of divide that politicians are loath to deal with. In sallying forth to try, Lim delivers another blow to his critics’ unfair stereotype of him as a covert racist.

At the same time, the veteran politician projects his lifelong calling’s better side: bold and creative politicians can and do use their arena to break the hold that social and cultural taboos exert on the electorate.

Indian appointed speaker by Snap

If Lim succeeds in this instance, he would not be acting in a historical void. It was the Iban-dominated Snap, Sarawak’s first multiracial party formed in 1961 that gave teeth to its agenda by appointing an Indian as speaker of the state legislative assembly in 1963.

Stephen Kalong Ningkan, the Snap leader and chief minister then, appointed in 1963 an Indian – whose presence as a race in the population was negligible – to the position on the grounds that the individual was capable and that the action was good for Snap’s multiracial image.

Observers, of cynical bent, tend to deprecate actions like this as window dressing. But over time and in history’s long haul, it is actions like these that resound in the memory, coming back to resuscitate buried or stifled intuitions that were once constructive though unpopular.

Snap’s multiracialism suffered lethal blows from baleful adversaries in Rahman Ya’kub and Abdul Taib Mahmud (left) in the 1970s and 1980s.

First, through Rahman’s machinations with then prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein, Snap’s founding financier James Wong, the parliamentary opposition leader then, was detained under the ISA for a year-and-a-half in November 1974.

After that, in a perverse twist in which the victim became the victimiser, Wong was responsible for sacking Daniel Tajem in July 1983 for covertly supporting the successful candidacy of incumbent Edwin Tangkun against the party’s choice of Wong’s minion, Wellington Rufus Lanang, for the Simanggang seat in the April 1982 parliamentary polls.

Internecine conflict

The sacking worsened internecine conflict in Snap and led to secretary-general Leo Moggie’s myopic challenge to Wong, who wanted to move up from deputy president to take the retiring Dunstan Endawie’s place at the top in the party elections later that year.

Moggie lost and led a walkout of prominent Dayaks, including Tajem (right), from Snap to form the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak.

The episode was the trigger for endless schisms within the Dayak political community, diluting their strength and leaving it fractured by its representation in as many as six political parties – PBB, SUPP, PRS, SPDP, PKR and Snap.

Tajem’s return to Snap as its adviser earlier this year, symbolically at least, meant that the wheel of Dayak questing and experience has gone its full cycle of waywardness.

Now that denouement would have a constructive sequel if he gets his party to accept the invitation offered by his superior in political experience, though not in age, to merge with the DAP.

The move would strengthen both parties, weaken the grip of race on Malaysian politics, stanch the mutually undermining flow of recrimination between Snap and PKR, and serve notice to Umno that its policy of ruling Sarawak through its proxy, PBB, is on its last legs.

No one move by an opposition group could have such multiple beneficent effects.

  1. #1 by Peter on Thursday, 21 April 2011 - 11:07 am

    So these nothing to do bigots from Sarawak want Malaysians to continue to vote for Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his coterie who have been accused of milking and robbing the natives? They want us to support corruption and abuse of power? What would their Holy Book say?
    As long as we vote out of our free will, not bribed, not threatened, not misinformed, it’s our absolute right to vote however we choose. Who are you to ‘sibuk’?
    May I suggest that you also take away the citizenship of the non-bumiputera and reject the taxes paid by them at the same time. These racialistic lazy idiotic bums running Perkasa including those base in Sarawak/Sabah, enough of your 1Crap. Please go and hide yourself in a cocoon.

  2. #2 by shambles on Thursday, 21 April 2011 - 11:24 am

    Owing to the fact that both DAP and SNAP are multi racial parties, i would think that a merger would be quite feasable. Also considering the fact that the influence DAP has is predominatly in the urban areas and SNAP predominantly in the rural areas, this merger might do both parties good. However, moving forward, all candidates from both parties should be thoroughly vetted to ensure the transparency and integrity of both parties are not tarnished. Since DAP has strong influences in the Peninsular, the merger with SNAP will allow a 2 way connection whereby Semenanjung Malaysians can hold positions in Sarawak and Sarawakian Malaysians hold positions in Semenanjung. These deliberate actions will encourage exceptance by all Malaysians for all Malaysian leaders regardless of where they come from. I suggest DAP + SNAP = DA-AP. :)

  3. #3 by k1980 on Thursday, 21 April 2011 - 11:56 am

    DAP + SNAP = DNAP (Democratic National Action Party)


    UMNO = U Must Never Oppose

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Thursday, 21 April 2011 - 1:08 pm

    TheSun reported today that SNAP is not interested to merge with DAP but preferred to go nationwide in the next general election. I think it is disastrous for SNAP to go nationwide as Malaysians are now keen to have a two-party system. Smaller parties can only survive by latching themselves to either BN or PR.

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