This is the final part of the series. Thus far, readers can appreciate the fact that history does repeat itself and those who do not learn from it will commit the same folly again and again.
6. DAP: Tactics and campaign strategies in general elections
In 1974, DAP objected to Malaysia’s ties with China. The reason given was that it didn’t bring any benefits to the chinese in particular and Malaysians in genera (NST 21st August 1974). When former Prime Minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak paid the first official visit to China, the DAP accused the Barisan Nasional’s establishing diplomatic ties with China as an ‘election ploy’ to garner Malaysian chinese votes!
In 1987, Kit Siang questioned past government leaders criticising Malaysians investing abroad as being disloyal, but in 1994, when DAP’s closest political ally Semangat 46 chief Tengku Razaleigh questioned Malaysian chinese of their loyalty for their overseas investment in CHina, Lim Kit Siang chose the “deafening silence”, to illustrate that it was alright to sacrifice “principles” he often preached but never practices (even though Kit Siang disagreed with S46 Tengku Razaleigh’s comments and felt that the S46 leader was being out of touch from political realities).
In the 1974 election campaign, the DAP adopted the politics of desperation and racism, harping on sensitive issues despite knowing very well it could lead to racial tension. In chinese areas, the DAP put up posters “warning” chinese voters that chinese culture and education would be taken away from the by the BN. In malay areas, the DAP created issues of government inefficiency in combating inflation and corruption. The tactics were similar to those used for arousing communal hatred and dissension during and after the 1969 general elections (Straits Times 16th August 1974).
DAP promised Penangites in 1974 that if DAP captured the state government, it would investigate various allegations of malpractices and corruption against the ruling coalition and the “acquisition of sudden wealth” by prominent members of the ruling party in the last 5 years (1970 to 1974). The DAP also promised to recognise Nanyang and Taiwa graduates for appointment to local authorities and other state vacancies; grant book aid and scholarships to all needy children, and to set up a revolving book-bank; construct low-cost houses and resettle slums and squatters at permanent sites; and review the imposition of quit rents; dissolve the management committee and hold local elections; re-site the Penang bridge or to consider alternative linkage (Straits Times 1st August 1974).
In 1978, in a desperate move to uplift the DAP’s image, Kit Siang announced a DAP’s “shadow Cabinet” comprising 16 DAP MPs to monitor the respective Ministries in government. As soon as the 1978 general elections was over, the proposal frizzled out.
The 1981 DAP crisis in Penang state was worse than the one in 1978 with the Opposition party embroiled in power struggles, disunity, indiscipline and factionalism which spread from Penang to Perak, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. Mass resignations dogged the days of the DAP crisis in Penang, resulting in ten out of the 17 branches leaving en bloc in support of the DAP dissenters against Kit Siang’s dictatorial rule. A former DAP leader from Penang commented that (quote): “any new DAP member who joins the party cannot afford to remain neutral and is bound to be drawn into the whirlpool of factionalism and power struggles among the leaders” (Star, 25th February 1981).
The DAP Penang crisis exposed Kit Siang’s support of Karpal Singh’s bias against DAP chinese educated members. In 1981, Karpal Singh told the Press that DAP has no place for those who talk in terms of chinese unity or malay unity or indian unity. Expelled DAP Penang vice chairman Seow hun Khim urged chinese educated DAP members not ot be fooled by Kit Siang, to speak up and not act against their conscience by remaining silent. Quipping a chinese saying about Kit Siang (quote): “Kit Siang can set a big fire, but his members are not even allowed to light a lamp”. On March 1981, DAP Melaka crisis began which later led to the sacking of chinese educated Chan Teck Chan.
7. DAP and other malay parties
Tengku Razaleigh in December 1980 when he was in UMNO, called on Kit Siang to retire from politics following the latter’s public announcement of his intention to do so. Expressing fears of DAP capturing the Pengkalan Kota seat would encourage the Opposition to take control of Penang, Ku Li said the DAP would use Pengkalan Kota as a base to project its ambition. And referring to Kit Siang’s resignation and the DAP crisis, Ku Li acknowledge that the DAP scenario “reflects the kind of dictatorship ruling the DAP”. The aftermath of Kit Siang’s withdrawing his resiugnation as expected also saw many of “DAP dissenters” who had challenged Kit Siang being axed from the Party (including former DAP political chief Chan Teck Chan).
In June 1979, former Umno Vice President Tengku Razaleigh once advised the people to be wary of opposition parties like DAP and PAS which he said indulged in politics of fear. He added that DAP and PAS are always looking for opportunities to belittle BN leaders and intimidate the people with sensitive issues that could widen the relationship gap between the government and people.
8. DAP’s tired calls for human rights, freedom and democratisation
For 27 years, DAP Kit Siang and his big boys have been singing the “song of freedom and democracy” and virtually projected DAP as having sole rights to free Malaysians from repression, sufferings and injustice. But if we remember, in 1980 after the tragic DAP defeat at the Pengkalan Kota by-election in Penang, Kit Siang had the discomfort of hearing that song being sung by his supporters. There was a difference. In 1980, the song was directed at him during a time of internal turmoil. It was also a time, when ousted DAP leaders gagged by Kit Siang for years of dictatorship, began to “spill the truth of Kit Siang”. It was also a time when Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir who was Deputy PM branded DAP as the ‘Dictatorial Party’ and democratic only in name. Adding that Kit Siang applies double standards in that he will not allow party members to criticise him, while he goes around criticising everyone in BN.
Hoping that the public’s memories are short of his calls for freedom and democracy, Kit SIang went about “chopping and changing DAP rank and file” as he wished, by gagging and disciplining those he did not like during the 1980 DAP leadership crisis. In short, Lim Kean Siew once complimented Kit Siang’s character as “what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander!”. The Socialist Democratic Part (formed by DAP dissidents in 1978) described the 1980 DAP crisis as a “comedy of errors”. Kit Siang conveniently accused the Malaysian press for discrupting and destriying DAP. For years, the double standard Kit Siang has accused BN government for not granting press freedom.
In 1981, DAP national publicity secretary Tan Seng Giaw charged former DAP MP Chan Teck Chan for committing a serious breach of discipline for publishing a book containing the latter’s speeches in Parliament without the consent and approval of the DAP CEC. This is the DAP’s version of “human rights and press freedom” which DAP practices within and without. On one hand, DAP challenges the government for press freedom while on the other, suppresses its own leaders’ freedom and rights to publish books (source: Straits Times 4th March 1981).
In 1980 when the press reported the DAP developments, Kit Siang questioned the “rights and freedom” of the press. He attacked the press for blowing the “small disagreements” out of proportions and therefore, irresponsible journalism. Yet, Kit Siang does the same or worse by using the DAP’s official organ “The Rocket” against Barisan Nasional government by sensationalising small issues. It was alright for the DAP to condone, promote and protect “irresponsible journalism” of the Rocket but not alright for the vernacular press to report the accurate picture of the DAP crisis.
This is the sort of mentality and attitude of Malaysia’s opposition leader in Parliament who has no courage to admit weaknesses of his leadership, but instead heaped blame against the Malaysian press and the BN for its internal turmoil. Yet, Kit Siang and his warlords are boastful and to the point of utmost arrogance to claim that they are courageous and brave to sacrifice “freedom and personal lives” for the sake of the people’s interests and rights even if they had to face the “repressive laws” of the BN government. For the wise voters, questioning the virtues of DAP must be a continuous affair. If DAP leaders cannot even admit “to themselves” their own weaknesses and faults in their leadership, where are the qualities of honesty, courage and bravery? By depriving these qualities, the DAP leaders are surmountable to being self deceiving, dishonest and cowardly “to themselves”. Needless to mention their leadership accountability and responsibilities toward voters.