Farouk A. Peru
The Malaysian Insider
17 July 2015
Two weeks in a row of top DAP men (the first being Zairil Khir Johari) would be too much for any writer, I think. Especially a writer on a 20-hour long fast each day.
Fortunately, last Sunday’s weather was rather cool. The rain made it very much more acceptable. But let’s face it, I would have made it to this talk even if the weather was Saudi Arabian hot! It was not often London enjoyed the presence of DAP’s secretary-general as well as the Chief Minister of Penang, YB Lim Guan Eng.
I had been generously granted an interview with Lim after today’s main event – his conversation with my friend and compadre, Mariam Mokhtar.
Mariam has been known to fire off some difficult questions so I hope Lim would not be too shell-shocked to answer my own questions later.
Monsoons Book Club (MBC) efficiently organised this event as they did Zairil’s the week before. Although only six months old, the MBC have organised very thought-provoking talks to stir up deep political debates for overseas Malaysians.
Mariam began by asking Lim to comment on the former deputy prime minister, Tun Musa Hitam’s remark to her that Malaysia was in a mess. Lim went further by saying that it was not just in a mess but in a crisis.
Malaysia is being plagued by humiliating political scandals where the prime minister himself has been implicated, the first ever in Malaysian political history. The economy is no longer robust thanks to the haphazard implementation of the GST and misgovernance (which is not really a word but one that needs to be coined thanks to the existence of Umno) is rife.
This effectively began the tone for the rest of the conversation and although the topic did divert to the issue of congestion and environmental issues in Penang, we pretty much stayed on the issue of Malaysia’s political crisis and DAP’s proposed solutions.
I put on my business hat when I asked my first question to Lim – what was DAP’s unique selling point? In other words, what made DAP different from other parties?
Lim answered that DAP was a truly Malaysian party and never wavered from its political philosophy. It never joined the racialist Barisan National (BN), for example.
This is unlike PAS, which had a brief spell with BN before its acrimonious departure.
Lim also made the point that DAP leaders have put themselves at risk (he himself was a “graduate” of Operasi Lalang 25 years ago), further proving their commitment to the cause of democracy.
I then mentioned that Malaysians were still not able to appreciate a party solely for the sake of governance. After all, the Malays have had decades of indoctrination towards racism and religious bigotry, no thanks to the Umno propaganda machine.
Can the Malays be persuaded to accept the DAP which subscribes to the idea of a Malaysian Malaysia.
Lim sounded very confident when he answered to the affirmative. He has complete faith in the Malay populace. They seemed to know diamond from glass.
Lim mentioned his own personal experience when talking about the change in the Malay mind. He mentioned the Felda Malays who were diehard Umno supporters, only to now become victims of mismanagement.
Felda shares have plunged by more than half. He also mentioned “kaum ibu” Malays who supported Umno up till now only to have serious doubts with the emergence of scandal after scandal. One even considered getting her money out of Lembaga Urusan Tabung Haji after its connection to the 1MDB scandal.
People are changing, they can only be pushed so far by the ruling regime.
The burning question on everyone’s mind, including my own, was DAP’s recent split with PAS. Mariam had earlier pressed Lim for answers as to why he had not consulted PKR before splitting.
He replied that the split was unilaterally from PAS’s side. The DAP only acquiesced to PAS’s wishes. It took three parties to make Pakatan Rakyat. With PAS’s change of heart, it simply was not possible to keep Pakatan Rakyat alive.
I later asked Lim if DAP could continue without its coalition partners. He surprisingly replied in the negative (surprising because I thought his optimism was insurmountable!).
He believed DAP needed coalition partners. However, with its unpleasant history with PAS, it was not possible to form a coalition with them. I agreed completely.
PAS has displayed an appalling lack of integrity and it is very clear that the treacherous PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang cannot be trusted. He and Haron Din are now showing their true colours.
Lim, however, shows great hopes in the “PAS Progressives”. Now that they are forming their own party and are seen to be “backburning” hudud, perhaps a cooperation with them is possible.
This is where I have serious doubts. I have had the experience of asking former PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu questions regarding freedom of religion for heterodox Muslims and he was as fascist as Hadi Awang himself.
I do feel that any form of religious politics must be completely rejected. They take away the fundamental liberties of citizens.
All in all, I do feel that DAP is the best bet for Malaysian voters. This is due to the fact that they focus on what matters – governance.
Race and religion have no place in governance. They are used by scoundrels to levy power for themselves. I am not so idealistic as to say that DAP is not without problems but it must be remembered that they are dealing in a multi-racial, multi-religious society where the biggest political party uses race and religion to their own ends.
They must therefore tread carefully to ensure there is no bad blood. With Umno and PAS in disarray, the time is now for them to claim their destiny. – July 17, 2015.