DAP and PAS can present a powerful combination without
eating into each other's turf. As
established parties, their leaders command a huge following.
Despite their complaints of alleged media blackouts, their prominence is
certainly due to continuous coverage by the local media and not the occasional coverage by the foreign media.
Their leaders are realistic enough to
invite the local media to all its press
conferences., even when these opposition
leaders decide to deride their guests.
The cooperation between DAP and PAS is a
sensitive issue to both sides because it
can be a double edged sword.
It makes good political strategy but at
the same time allows the nemesis of the
two parties to attack them.
There is no love lost between the MCA
and DAP as both try to outdo each other
to win the support of the Chinese electorate.
As much as it tries to project itself as a multi-racial party, the DAP is predominantly-Chinese in membership.
PAS, on the other hand, is rural based and boasts strong backing in the east coast. It now hopes to bank on the resentment among Malay voters over the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to gain electoral
Following Anwar's ouster, both parties
have worked on the question of democracy, human rights and justice with other parties and NGOs.
DAP leaders have also appeared at PAS
ceramahs at their Gombak headquarters
and in other states.
That has been enough for Barisan Nasional leaders, especially those from MCA, to challenge the DAP on its stand regarding the setting up of
an Islamic state an ultimate objective of PAS.
The apology by DAP deputy chairman
Karpal Singh over his “over my dead
body'' remark in the 1990 general
election, and subsequently front-paged in Harakah, did not help clear the confusion.
But in all fairness to DAP secretary-general Lim Kit Siang, he has reiterated several times that the party is against the setting up of an Islamic state.
It must be pointed out that he has also
said that the DAP will not have any
electoral pact with PAS in the next
Lim is well aware of the sentiments of party members and the community on the issue. That, perhaps,
explains why the party leadership is agitated over the constant demand by the MCA for an explanation on its
cooperation with PAS.
MCA leaders are now claiming that the
DAP is evading the issue by attacking
the performance of party president Datuk
Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik as Transport
They have also questioned why Karpal
Singh should make the apology, asking whether it was aimed at appeasing PAS supporters.
On Friday, Lim said that he would
convene a meeting of political parties, NGOs and prominent Malaysians on March 16 to examine and study
the threat of a purported biased mass media to democracy.
The press, he said, had attempted to use
the issue of Islamic state and
misrepresent the DAP's stand on
the Islamic issue.
The DAP leadership should not blame the
press, which is merely reporting
statements by Barisan leaders
challenging the DAP to explain the status of its cooperation with PAS.
The party cannot claim there is a media
blackout if its rebuttals have no direct
relevance to the original issue.
Malaysians can judge for themselves the merits of the case by reading the full transcript of statements
issued by the party on its
Whether the issue has been ignored by the press or not, the subject is likely
to surface during the election
Barisan and the DAP should cut their
rhetoric, press intimidation and
name-calling over the “opposition pact'' issue. Malaysians are more interested in the substance of the argument.
One way out for the DAP is perhaps to cut all linkages with PAS and to concentrate only on HAK and Adil.
The Islamic state issue aside, the DAP
has also put to test its decision to
support the reformasi campaign.
Chinese-based Barisan component leaders seem convinced that Chinese voters are not as passionate as their
Malay brethren on the Anwar issue.
Some have even said that the reformasi movement, especially with its demonstrations in the early stages, were equated, rightly or wrongly, with the protests in Indonesia which
led to racial riots.
They argued that the Chinese voters have
a phobia about luan (chaos) and that
their concern would be political and
The DAP protest against toll rates was
more practical as the matter had direct
impact on people's pockets, which explained why
the MCA and Gerakan joined in the
Cooperation with groups supporting the reformasi issue is another double-edged sword for the DAP.
The move may win the support of
liberals, particularly the English educated urban middle class, but among the Chinese grassroots, the scenario is less clear.
Still, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan
Ismail is convinced that the support
from the Chinese is there, saying the
community had given her family “quiet
but firm moral support in this critical
time of trial and tribulation.''
The DAP is also sure that any form of
injustice and the lack of transparency
will be sufficient to generate protest
votes at the polls.
It also hopes to get the support of the
voters by highlighting the imprisonment of Kota Melaka MP Lim Guan Eng.
In the spirit of Gong Xi Fa Cai,
Malaysian Chinese politicians must
remember that they can disagree
on many issues but they must never be personal in their
If Barisan leaders must tolerate
dissent, oppositionists, who make a
career attacking the government,
must sportingly accept the knocks
when their turn comes. That's democracy.