Monday, March 17, 2008

LKS: perpetual Mr Opposition Leader?

by Josh Hong Mar 14, 08 3:37pm

[I'm taking the liberty of poaching this from Mkini site because I think it is a very good read and prescient analysis by Josh Hong, columnist]

Much of the nation was immersed in euphoria over the unexpected wins by the major opposition parties last weekend, only to taste some bitter fruits of victory now.

Yes, Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan fell like a house of cards in many of their parliamentary and state assembly constituencies, but racist politics is still very much alive and kicking. I mean, within the DAP itself.

Initially, I was extremely heartened to note that Islam, or the Islamic state debate, played a very insignificant role in the just concluded general elections, as opposed to the previous two. I remember Lim Keng Yeik of Gerakan and Ng Yen Yen of MCA, the two chief non-Muslim propagandists of Umno, going around Chinese areas scare-mongering the voters with ‘no pork, no karaoke and no cosmetics’ talks in 1999 and 2004, but those ridiculous words were conspicuously absent this time around.

Instead, Ong Ka Ting, the MCA president, and Lim, in their imperfect harmony, resorted to a relentless smearing of Anwar Ibrahim as an anti-Chinese fanatic. The strategy backfired and their parties lost big with Gerakan almost routed.

So it was crystal clear that Islam was a non-issue, so then why has Lim Kit Siang, the DAP veteran and stalwart, chose to have a post-election manifesto by allowing religion to raise its ugly head?

LKS, in an utterly disrespectful and arrogant manner, issued a statement instructing all the newly elected DAP assemblymen of Perak to boycott the swearing-in ceremony, scheduled to take place at Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar this week. Well, who did he think he is?

Need not be answerable?

He is no longer the secretary-general, the post that he vacated in 1999 after his ignominious defeat in Tanjong. The incumbent is his son Lim Guan Eng who is now the Chief Minister of Penang, but Guan Eng has maintained his elegant silence so far. Neither is LKS party chairman, the post currently occupied by Karpal Singh.

So, how on earth has LKS - a mere MP for Ipoh Timur - this power over DAP state assemblymen in Perak? I thought half of the country voted for separate administrations at state and federal levels.

Why can’t PAS secretary Mohd. Nizar Jamaluddin be the first choice as menteri besar of Perak? Because he is a Muslim? So a Muslim cannot represent and safeguard non-Muslim interests, if I buy LKS’ argument? If the DAP veteran honestly thought he had to make a stand so that he would not be seen to have ‘betrayed’ the Chinese who had voted for his party nationwide, LKS must also understand DAP could not have formed the government in Penang and won a total number of 28 parliamentary seats, unprecedented in the party’s history, without the huge swing in the Malay vote!

For instance, Teo Nie Ching of DAP defeated MCA heavyweight Hoh Hee Lee with a splendid majority of 21,025 in Serdang, but this could not have come about without the party securing 40% of the Malay votes in the constituency. So LKS seriously believes he need not be answerable to them?

How pathetic to see LKS is still obsessed with the harmful dichotomy of race and religion although the nation has awakened. Perhaps he has so used to the racist game orchestrated by Umno that he can hardly recognise the vastly changed political landscape.

Poisoning the people

Although I have my reservations about monarchy, even a ceremonial one, I agree with many that the royal household of Perak is unique and different from the rest in Malaysia. The Perak royals are highly respected for their intelligence and commitment to justice, especially the Regent Raja Nazrin Shah, who in my view is far more popular and genuinely loved by Malaysians of all races. Does LKS think he can surpass the Regent in unifying the people of Perak?

True, LKS has apologised to the Sultan and Regent of Perak, but this is not enough. He should go a step further by admitting that he failed to take into account the feelings of the Malay/Muslim community, a constituency that the DAP could barely win in the past.

As Ibrahim Suffian of Merdeka Centre has pointed out, the opposition parties must view the sharp decrease of Malay representation in Penang and Perak very seriously. If mishandled, the Malay voters who have just ventured into the new political terrain could feel threatened and flock back to Umno.

Let’s not forget, the two major Malay dailies, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian, are still bent on poisoning the people with lies, fears, greed and hysteria, not to mention RTM and TV3 which reach nearly all corners of the country. DAP must exercise extra caution in order not to give more fodder for the racist party to regain its losses.

But LKS has apparently failed to live up to the expectations of those who are hungry for truly multiethnic politics. The more LKS meddles in the affairs in Penang and Perak, the more DAP sounds like the People’s Action Party of Singapore, and LKS himself like Lee Kuan Yew.

Should Umno successfully cash in on this negative impression and recover much of the Malay vote, LKS can go back to doing what he does best: being the perpetual Mr Opposition Leader.

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