pic by BERNAMA
WHILE knickers were still twisted for some DAP leaders from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s casual remarks that the party was sometimes extreme, along came Ronnie Liu (picture), by chance or design, to vindicate the seventh prime minister (PM).
Liu, a DAP central executive committee member, reportedly had urged his party not to dilute its “Chinese-ness” nor position itself as a non-Chinese party.
It earned the wrath of several DAP leaders, foremost, its Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh who fiercely denounced Liu as someone who did not represent her nor the (multicultural) DAP that she had joined.
Herein lies the ideals versus the realities — Yeoh sounds right and is the face that the DAP wants to represent to the rest of the nation, but Liu is the party’s reality; always well-positioned in the party and over the years has been able to hold his own.
In other words, Liu did not become a bane, or “narrow-minded and toxic”, as described by Yeoh, overnight.
He has been around and not likely to drop out anytime soon simply because there is a segment of the DAP that wants, if not outrightly, to revere him.
Such is his standing in the party that it is doubtful that any of the DAP leaders, who were quick to the draw to demonise Dr Mahathir for pointing out the obvious, would dare suggest that he be sacked or removed from the party.
After all, his utterances that drew the ire of Yeoh and the like-minded are not simply a matter of one suffering from verbal diarrhoea, but rather his outline of the party’s direction, struggles and philosophy, which is contrary and opposed to what had been proclaimed by other leaders of the DAP.
Surely Liu’s “crime”, which challenges the tenets or rather the core essence of what the party claims to be its raison d’etre, demands more than a slap on the wrist.
While Yeoh was expressing her anger and frustration towards Liu, she also revealed another side of the DAP that most of its supporters and members chose to ignore while they were busy demonising Dr Mahathir over the state of the nation’s current political affairs.
She revealed Liu’s incessant taunts and Facebook’s countdown, demanding Dr Mahathir to step down when he was leading the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
Yeoh pointed out that for Liu, Dr Mahathir could not do anything right and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, then the PM in waiting and still is, could do no wrong.
These revelations help provide perspective to what preceded the Sheraton Move which led to the downfall of the PH government and Dr Mahathir’s resignation.
Liu’s and several other DAP leaders’ demands and taunts, alongside Anwar’s loyalists, for Dr Mahathir to step down long before the agreed timeline came had been used by those involved in the Sheraton Move to justify the breaking up of PH and the collaboration of the Malay parties.
As far as they were concerned, it was a move by a group of non-Malays aided by the Anwar faction to push out a Malay leader.
While it can be argued that Liu and his ilk did not represent the DAP, the party’s inability to rein them had given the Malay factions the justification to pursue the backdoor government.
By the time Dr Mahathir and other PH leaders attempted to restore the government, their downfall was almost a fait accompli.
On the flip side, given the inability of the DAP, and to a lot of degree Anwar, to rein in their supporters and members who were incessantly demanding for Dr Mahathir’s resignation, it is quite baffling that today they are blaming Dr Mahathir for resigning.
By any measure, the likes of Liu should be celebrating that their wish had been fulfilled. To be fair, Liu is not the only thorn on Dr Mahathir’s side. Even during the run up to the 14th General Election, several DAP leaders made condescending remarks on Dr Mahathir when addressing their Chinese crowd.
One, in justifying the party’s decision to name Dr Mahathir as the PH PM’s candidate, explained to his crowd that he (Dr Mahathir) is already old and the party needed to use him to win the Malay votes.
These were somewhat petty at that time as the nation was exalted in a unified opposition to bring down the kleptocrats, yet today, it had returned to bite them. But back to the issue of the DAP not or being extreme, it has to be pointed out that prior to Liu making his opinion public, DAP leaders, in particular secretary general Lim Guan Eng, issued a statement lambasting Dr Mahathir as being “wrong, baseless and misguided” in calling the party extreme.
Not long after, DAP’s Malay representative for the Ketari state seat Young Syefura Othman reportedly led an entourage to meet Dr Mahathir to convince him of DAP’s moderate and multiracial views.
In an obvious attempt to be witty, she posted on social media that she admitted to Dr Mahathir that the DAP was extreme but in matters of democratic issues, the welfare of the people and aspects of (good) governance.
On the part of Lim, his quick and firm response to Dr Mahathir’s remarks may have allowed him to score points temporarily, but if he was not too defensive, he would have probably taken Dr Mahathir’s view in good stead and addressed the elephant in the room in the likes of Liu.
Similarly, in the case of Young Syefura. Instead of trying too hard to prove that she would stand up to Dr Mahathir for describing the DAP as sometimes extreme, she could have taken the opportunity to address the extreme elements that did exist in the DAP as proven by Liu.
Due to her inability or lack of courage to stand up to the extreme elements, she and other Malays who had joined the DAP would continue to be labelled by their Malay detractors as window dressings and lapdogs.
It may sound harsh, but some things are beyond good manners.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.