It looks like I have a natural talent for courting controversy, even when tweeting what I thought to be a harmless comment. Last week, I said that a Chinese party had made known their Ministerial candidates (from their members contesting in Ayer Hitam and Teluk Intan), and lamented that the Malay parties in the Pakatan Harapan had remained quiet about theirs. I then said that was the difference in behaviour between the Chinese—who expressed openly who they wanted as Ministers—and the Malays, who tend to be shy and reticent.
For making this observation about the difference in behavioural attitude between Malays and Chinese, I received a lot of brickbats. Someone texted me and said, “Why are you being a racist when you were never one before?” Another well-known former political secretary of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad even accused me of being an opportunist, saying that I had joined DAP to secure a comfortable seat, and had retaliated when one was not made available. Both of them totally missed the point.
Firstly, calling DAP a Chinese party is not the same as saying DAP is a racist party. Sometimes, when we describe Gerakan as a Chinese party or UMNO as a Malay party, we are making a largely accurate description of both. It’s true that Gerakan has some non-Chinese members and UMNO has some Kadazans, but ethnically they are largely monolithic in character. Why then, is calling DAP a Chinese party offensive?
Secondly, I was not at all angry with DAP for not fielding me as a candidate. Disappointed yes, but not to the extent of wanting to retaliate in the way some people thought I was doing with my tweet. It’s true that I was offered the Gelang Patah seat 12 months ago. I was quite excited because it was an urban seat and the kind of constituency I thought was suitable for me. But after three months, I was told that the offer was conditional on something else. It was then later withdrawn. Then a second-liner in the DAP leadership told me that I could go to Bentong if I was interested. I said it was not a constituency that was suitable for me. I am not a giant killer and have limited resources since I have been unemployed for the last eight years.
There was total silence on the subject of the election and seat allocation in the last six months. In fact, I was not very involved in the party’s activities. When I sent a text message 27 March this year to the party’s key men to ask if there would be any seat for me to contest, I was not even granted the courtesy of a reply. So it’s not the issue of not having a seat that bothered me, but the attitude that was shown.
I have always believed that what is lacking in the Malay-Chinese relationship at the political level is the right balance of civility and respect. The problem with MCA was that they became too compliant and submissive in their relationship with UMNO, and that’s why they lost the support of the Chinese. I am now equally convinced that the arrogance of the DAP leadership will never secure them deep Malay support. Somewhere in between lies the right balance that I was trying to find.
Anyway, I hope DAP leaders do not try to prolong this matter and stop telling people that I was offered a seat which I then refused. I too will no longer speak on this issue as I really think my non-candidacy is not a matter of national interest that warrants any deliberation. What we need now is solidarity to ensure victory for the Opposition in the coming election, which I am totally dedicated to.