Malacca had always played a leading role in DAP’s 50-year campaign to create a new and better Malaysia – where Malaysians can regain confidence to be able to compete with the rest of the world instead of fighting among ourselves over a diminishing economic cake.
Malacca was one of the six founder DAP branches after the party was registered on March 18, 1966, the other being Seremban, Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Johor Baru and Penang. The formation of the DAP branch in Ipoh made these seven branches the Magnificent Seven in the first year of the DAP’ s political struggle in 1966.
No other state could claim to have a special relationship with the 50 year struggle of the DAP, as four out of the five DAP Secretaries-General had special associations with Malacca, starting with DAP’s first Secretary-General C.V. Devan Nair (who was at the time DAP MP for Bangsar and later became President of Singapore), myself, Kerk Kim Hock and Lim Guan Eng who together served as Secretary-General of DAP for some 47 of the party’s 50-year history.
Right from the very beginning, DAP was formed as a political party with a commitment and vision for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.
This was why the first three by-elections contested by the DAP before the 1969 general elections were UMNO strongholds – Kampung Baru in Selangor in January 1967 (where the UMNO candidate Ahmad Razali Mohamad Ali won and went on to become Selangor Mentri Besar in 1982), Tampoi in Johor in September 1967 and the Segamat Utara parliamentary by-election in Johor in October 1968 (where the UMNO candidate, Musa Hitam, won and went on to become Deputy Prime Minister in 1982).
The DAP contested the first general election in 1969 with less than 3,000 members but we secured some 300,000 votes, an average of 100 votes per member – in sharp contrast to the MCA in the 13th General Election in 2013, claiming to have over a million members but which could not muster more than 300,000 votes from its one-million membership!
This is the new political scenario in Malaysia. Although the MCA boasts of over a million members, the overwhelming majority of MCA members did not vote for MCA or Barisan Nasional candidates because they were patriotic, loyal, idealistic and thinking Malaysians who put national interests and those of their future generations above those of the petty interests of a handful of MCA/BN leaders – and this is also why the other BN parties like Gerakan and MIC were also rejected, not only by the voters at large but by their own members in the last general election.
This should be replicated for UMNO in the 14th General Election.
A former UMNO Minister whom I met recently said that although Datuk Seri Najib Razak is stronger than ever as UMNO President after the recent Parliament meeting where he sailed through without a hitch with his 2016 Budget and the UMNO General Assemblies where he imposed his political will despite opposition by former UMNO stalwarts like Tun Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Najib’s popularity among UMNO members and the Malays in general are not so sure and secure.
Najib can buy the support of the 300 to 400 UMNO “hulubalangs” who dominate the UMNO Supreme Council and the various levels of UMNO divisional leadership, but he will not be able to buy the support of the three million UMNO members and 21,000 UMNO branches.
This is why opposition and disaffection against Najib will intensify in the coming months and years, although they may not threaten Najib’s stranglehold on the levers of power in UMNO, both in party and government.
The 300-400 UMNO chieftains in the Prime Minister’s pockets will agree with Najib when he claimed in his 2016 New Year Message that the RM2.6 billion donation and RM55 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals have been resolved and no more issues in the country, but I do not think the 30 million Malaysians, the three million UMNO members or 21,000 UMNO branches are so gullible as to believe such empty propaganda.
Najib’s twin mega scandals continue to make headlines, if not in the UMNO/BN owned and controlled media, but on the social media – with Malaysia even named as third in the world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015”.
The greatest challenge for Pakatan Harapan in the 14th General Election is how to reach out to the three million UMNO members so that they could join all Malaysians in a campaign to “Save Malaysia”, not to save any individual leader or political party, but the save the nation from rampant corruption, widespread socio-economic injustices and the failures of Najib’s nation-building policies.
(Speech at the “Solidarity with Lim Kit Siang & Mana RM2.6 billion?” ceramah at Malacca DAP State premises at Lorong Pandan, Malacca on Tuesday, 5th January 2016 at 9 pm)