Last week some members of Damansara DAP kindly took me out for a steamboat dinner (of the halal variety of course). I believe many of those in attendance are senior members of the party, in the sense that they have been with DAP for many years.
They said they wanted to get to know me better and to find out how I have felt since joining the party in March. The food was good, it was a pleasant evening all round and they even suggested that I give a short speech.
I told them that joining DAP was a happy experience because it is a platform for me to expound my beliefs about how secular democracy is vital for this country. I will remain an ordinary member as I am not interested in assuming any leadership role. What I am interested in is contributing to making DAP a progressive and reformist party in the truest sense of the word. By that, I mean a democratic party that will defend a secular government, a constitutional government and a fair and just rule for all Malaysians.
I told them the kind of government that will save Malaysia requires DAP to state categorically that it will defend secular policies. Only a secular government can stem the rising tide of radicalism and save Malays, and Malaysia. Only a secular education system can help Malaysians be one people in one country.
DAP must fight for Malays differently from Malay leaders in the Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Harapan who are more interested in being popular than doing right by Malays. Malaysia will only be safe and stable when Malays truly want to be part of the whole.
Religious laws and practices must not automatically become laws of the land. Only the needs of the community should be used as relevant criteria in determining policies. For example, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s statement that there is no need to arrest Muslims who are not fasting is a refreshing and brave statement from an UMNO Minister. It’s a good start to a conversation about whether we want a free democracy or a religious country.
DAP must take a long-haul view of politics in the country, and its ambition should not be just to tie up with another Malay party to form a government. A government that accepts a constitutional Ruler who dictates who the members of the Executive Council should be, or accepts fatwa as the law of the land should not have DAP in it. DAP should never sit on the same table in government with a party that feels disgusted with non-Muslims having “buka puasa” with Malays, and who thinks a woman’s place is at home.
I believe DAP should not want to share power with an Islamist party that has said openly that non-Muslims are not fit to govern a Muslim country and that Act 355 is needed for the country’s future legal system. DAP has to stand for the future of the country, even if that means it will be many more years before they can govern, whether at the federal or state government level. There is no need to tie up with a pseudo-reformist Malay party because if power is what they want, tying up with a pseudo-reformist UMNO makes more sense.