Saturday, May 31, 2014

PRK Teluk Intan Miss-Step Of A Legend

It has not been a good few months for YB Lim Kit Siang (LKS). The impact of the loss of his staunch colleague in the trenches, YB Karpal Singh, will only tell in the coming months, as his beloved Democratic Action Party, DAP, still remains at the tipping point of illegality, a scenario that will surely put pressure on the status of YB Lim Guan Eng as its Secretary General.
Dyana at the Founding of Perkasa
One would then have expected the choice for candidate for PRK Teluk Intan to be a prudent one, rather than an ambitious gamble! Certainly the candidacy of Dyana Sofea Mohd Daud, the first ever Perkasa-linked election candidate for the party, appears at times very much a gamble. For one, the candidate is far from ideal, relying really on sentiment, be it for being young, hence 'fresh' and apparently brave for being a Malay DAP candidate.
Dyana the First Perkasa DAP MP?
At times, especially early in the campaign period, Dyana's candidacy appeared to be another masterstroke by LKS, adding to his legend as an opposition figure who has survived, almost through sheer force of will, the ebb and flow of support for DAP. From his flagpole pissing days at the eve of 13th May, through failures of various Tanjung projects, massive loss in 2004 to arguably its strongest position today, LKS and DAP are inseparable.
However, one wonders whether Dyana's candidacy was not so much a decision made from a position of strength, but one taken in desparation.
Implications Of A Mah Win In Teluk Intan
There is a common misconception that DAP is the opposition alternative to the MCA. Actually, this is not true. There is no real opposition alternative to the MCA. The MCA champions Chinese rights in a specific context, that is the jus soli and other rights that are trade-offs against Malay Rights in the Malaysian constitution. This is why MCA finds itself bound to the Chinese Education lobby and over time has also evolved to champion Chinese commercial interests.
The DAP hence is very comfortable in taking a moral and 'pluralist' high ground against the MCA. Never mind the claims over the DAP's chauvinist policies, these are also inaccurate as the DAP is really not pro-Chinese, but rather it is anti-Malay and Malay Rights, hence it is anti-UMNO. In a scenario where Chinese education is secure and irrelevant in the political debate, DAP leaves MCA, with its other image of being a 'taukeh party' far in the dust.
Gerakan is another matter. It is Gerakan as a party that is the real problem for the DAP. Gerakan is a party formed by community leaders seeking more than a race-based approach to politics in Malaysia, with 2 strong intellectuals in the late Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu and arwah Prof. Dr. Syed Hussein al-Attas as its founders. Whilst as Chinese dominated as the DAP, Gerakan always had a moral advantage as it was truly open to all races... it was NOT anti-Malay!
The problem with Gerakan since the 2004 elections has been with its former leader, TS Koh Tsu Koon. Whilst TS Koh was leader, he practiced a less open form of leadership. Whilst many claim him to be racist based on his supposed actions as Chief Minister of Penang, he is actually equally rejected by Chinese in Gerakan, especially intellectuals such as YB Jeff Ooi and YB Dr Ong Kian Ming who left Gerakan for the DAP soon after TS Koh took over Gerakan's Presidency.
It is Gerakan's sunset period and near political demise actually that has assisted in the DAP's rejuvenation over the last 2 elections. The DAP suddenly found itself hardly challenged as a multi-racial party that champions Malaysia Malaysia, with only DS Najib's 1Malaysia approach only serving to confuse rather than truly erode its growing strength. The coming of age of a new generation of non-Malay Malaysian political activists that did not see a convincing pluralist representative among BN's parties flocked to DAP.
Mah Being Congratulated As New President
Hence, a rejuvenation of Gerakan, under a new leader with credibility and a willingness to return it to its pluralist roots is a real threat to DAP's future. Whilst Datuk Mah Siew Keong's actions since becoming President of Gerakan, such as appointing his rival for the Presidency into his committee to unite the party and beginning steps to limit the terms of Presidency, points to a return to old Gerakan values. All Datuk Mah lacks is polical credibility as a winner at the polls... which is what PRK Teluk Intan could deliver!
The Error Of Dismissing Mah As A 2-Time Loser
And it is a mistake to assume Datuk Mah could not win this PRK due to his losing twice before! Despite his loses, Datuk Mah still remains personally quite popular. If there was ever a victim of 'Tsunami Melayu' against Pak Lah in 2008 and 'Tsunami Cina' against BN in 2013, he would be it! Coming from a mixed electorate makes Mah especially vulnerable to disaffection by either one of the 2 major racial groups in Teluk Intan.
To make matters worse for the DAP is the reason why the Chinese voted so overwhelmingly against BN in PRU-13. Many an UMNO leader and activist, even this humble blogger, had Chinese friends and neighbours coming up to apologise for voting Pakatan during that election. The reason given? The Chinese voters then were convinced that Pakatan would win, believing DS Anwar Ibrahim's lie that the majority of Malays would also vote Pakatan!
In the end, the majority of Malays chose to support BN again, as many were at last convinced of the immorality of DS Anwar Ibrahim, with PAS also being rocked by disunity due to the pro-Anwar 'Erdogan' group. With BN now in power, the reason for voting against BN thinking Pakatan is to take power disappears, and with Datuk Mah likely to join the cabinet if he won, Chinese voters were likely to swing back to BN, maybe not in majority, but enough...
... and it would seem extremely vicious for an electorate to reject a candidate that will have the resources to develop Teluk Intan from a cabinet position should he win, as the Prime Minister himself has promised! 
Enough to bring credibility to Datuk Mah's leadership and potentially Gerakan to the forefront of pluralist politics in Malaysia! Hence, DAP and LKS was facing the reality of a real threat to its current pre-emminence in its political history.
The Real Gamble With Dyana
So, in truth, LKS choice of Dyana as candidate was in full consciousness of the real risk of Chinese voters if not swinging to support Datuk Mah, at least choosing not to vote at all such as shown in Kajang and Bukit Jelutong recently.The choice not to vote by the Chinese in particular would hurt DAP more as even if the Chinese supported Datuk Mah, it was not expected to be a swing to a majority position. So LKS needed a way to attract the Malay votes in Teluk Intan. 
Enter Dyana, a Perakian, with Perkasa credentials to boot! Young, educated, attractive and surely loyal to LKS as one of his personal entourage. The problem with Dyana though is that she would be a surprise choice for everyone in Pakatan, especially as she is, whilst unknown, was a relative novice, well away from it being her 'turn' to even be considered as a candidate. She wasn't even from Teluk Intan! Hence, her choice would appear to be to pander to LKS' own ideas for maintaining control of the party, especially so soon after the loss of Karpal and against the power of the Ngeh-Nga axis in Perak.

One notes the absence of many Pakatan Heavy Hitters on the ground in Teluk Intan, especially among their younger leaders. And I am not talking about potentially disaffected PAS leaders shying away due to DAP's and Dyana's opposition of Hudud, but also the absence of YB Hannah Yeoh, YB Nik Nazmi and their entourage continued with their scheduled tour of Australia. There were even rumours of YB Nurul Izzah being forced to campaign in Teluk Intan!

To make matters worse, Dyana's potential role as a Trojan Horse, especially after the revelation of how close her mother was to Datuk Ibrahim Ali who appeared to 'bless' her candidacy over a dinner just prior to her nomination as DAP's candidate cannot be dismissed. With Karpal gone, LKS may well see the risk of revolt in DAP from his choice of Dyana, even if she wins. And if she losses...?

Teluk Intan A Gamechanger?

Many believe that Teluk Intan is a potential gamechanger for BN should Datuk Mah win, but this blogger already believes it is. For one, this election confirms that the trend of BN promising gifts and largess to the Chinese community specifically, via its temples or Chinese vernacular schools, is truly over. Should Mah win, it also spells the return of Gerakan to centre-stage, as a real alternative for the pluralists among the young of parties in the BN line-up.

So next... will we see former Gerakan intellectuals such as YB Ong Kian Ming returning to gerakan?

Will we see the demise of the LKS legacy in DAP...?

This posting was written after votes had been cast at PRK Teluk Intan to avoid accusation of it being a campaign piece. This is an analysis of the ramifications of the results of the PRK, potentially regardless of who wins!

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