Time for DAP to start grooming its young leaders, say analysts

Image from Malaysiakini

IT is time for some DAP leaders to accept the current reality that it cannot survive for long before a multiracial electorate by being fixated on the “Chinese spectrum”, political analysts said.

On the heels of DAP central committee member Ronnie Liu’s latest remark that the party should not dilute its “Chinese-ness”, analysts said the recent public spat between its leaders shows that the younger generation in DAP has had enough of the traditionalist mentality of chauvinists.

The analysts also pointed out that such an argument between the so-called chauvinists and DAP young Turks had been ongoing for years.

Senior fellow of the National Professors Council Prof Dr Jeniri Amir – FMT Pix

Senior fellow of the National Professors Council Prof Dr Jeniri Amir said the divide was due to the opposing ideologies between the two groups working to preserve their respective interests and principles.

“DAP is split into at least two factions due to the difference in the members’ and leaders’ educational backgrounds as well as their views on how the party should move forward.

“One group wants to maintain the Chinese ‘totok’ (purity) while another wants the ‘Chineseness’ to be changed following the aspirations of the younger generation in DAP,” he said when contacted.

The younger generation, according to Jeniri, wanted assimilation of “Malaysian elements” to ensure DAP’s survival and relevance in the long run.

“For DAP to be able to survive and stay relevant, it cannot keep holding on to the conventional ideology that is fixated solely on the Chinese spectrum because the party has reached its maximum limit in terms of receiving the support of the so-called chauvinist’ supporters.

“If DAP wants to live up to its multiracial party brand, it has to do away with the ‘Chineseness’, It is important for DAP to be seen as fighting for all races, not just the Chinese.”

Jeniri felt that by changing its mindset to a more moderate one, DAP would be able to win Borneo voters who largely prefer locally based parties, adding that DAP needed to reinvent its image into an inclusive setup.

“The old ideology has become obsolete in the current political landscape.

“DAP is in Pakatan Harapan, a multiracial coalition, which means DAP needs to be more realistic in its approach.”

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian – Astro Awani Pix

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian echoed these views, saying that DAP needed to move beyond the old personalities and start working on its younger leaders.

“Who will continue leading DAP years from now? It will be the younger generation, which means DAP needs to start accepting that the way things are now is different.

“To survive, it needs to move forward and be in line with current wants and needs,” he said.

Asked if the current internal crisis could lead to mass party hopping, Sivamurugan did not discount such a possibility.

“It is too early to speculate about mass party hopping but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens because such remarks (by Liu) will hurt the feelings of the non-Chinese in DAP.”

On Monday, Liu said the party should not belittle or degrade itself just to gain Malay support but instead safeguard its culture as well as its constitutional spirit, pluralistic and democratic political struggle.

His statement was immediately criticised by his colleague Segambut member of parliament Hannah Yeoh, who said Liu “has done a great disservice to many of us DAP leaders who are working hard to fight off prejudices and stigmas against DAP”.

Damansara MP Tony Pua joined the chorus and slammed Liu for asking DAP not to “dilute its Chineseness”, saying Liu “is the Chinese chauvinist that DAP does not need”.

Pua said Liu wanted DAP to reverse the progress it had made to “become a more inclusive party that is more representative of all Malaysians”, to protect its “Chineseness”.

This article first appeared in The New Straits TimesĀ