DAP greenhorns need to learn from elders about being grounded

Voices of discontent are rising amid election ‘go fever’, especially after the DAP nixed the names of several incumbents as candidates, ahead of the upcoming state elections.

Nowhere is the fissures more apparent than in Penang, with former Bagan Dalam assemblyman M. Satees, claiming that there was an “emperor” in the party, while caretaker deputy chief minister II Dr P. Ramasamy alleged that there were “hidden hands” behind the selection of candidates. Even DAP women chief, Chong Eng, did not hide her displeasure at being dropped.

The situation even forced DAP national chairman, Lim Guan Eng, and its Penang chairman, Chow Kon Yeow, to call on party leaders and members to close ranks, urging them to work together in ensuring the party’s victory at the polls.

Similar whispers were also heard in Selangor, with certain individuals questioning the selection criteria of candidates, and wondering if “DAP was heading for an election, or a beauty pageant”.

DAP named its 15 candidates recently, with six new faces –  Ong Chun Wei (Balakong), Yew Jia Haur (Teratai), S. Preakas (Kota Kemuning), V. Papparaidu (Banting), Lwi Kian Keong (Sungai Pelek), and Dr Quah Perng Fei (Bandar Baru Klang). The average age of the candidates is 43.6, possibly in keeping with the party’s “rejuvenation” process.

However, dissenting voices continue to grow.

“Some DAP politicians are becoming aloof, thinking they are invincible. They need to be grounded and reminded that they are there to serve everyone, not just those in areas where they are popular,” said a long-time Selangor DAP member, who requested anonymity.

“The fact that some big names are making their displeasure public, says a lot, too.”

The member said there were those within the party who seemed to be “disconnected” from the realities on the ground.

“Social media is important, but it’s not everything. There needs to be a personal touch. In certain areas, it’s best not to use the DAP flag, but to talk to the constituents as a member of Pakatan Harapan. We need to be mindful of the sentiments on the ground, as anything can happen in Selangor.

“Some leaders must be open to criticism. For example, whenever there’s an article critical of them, they would be easily triggered, and automatically assume that it was written by someone friendly to their opponents. This mindset has to change. They need to look within,” the member added.

DAP has been part of the Selangor government since 2008. It has earned big wins in non-Malay majority areas, evident in the last three state elections.

Will this current wave of discontent by candidates who had been dropped affect the party’s chances in the coming polls?

Political analyst Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk said politicians and their supporters would naturally be disgruntled after being dropped. This was nothing new and not exclusive to the DAP.

Azeem, however, said that the repercussions of the decision – to field or not to field an individual – will only be evident after the voters cast their ballots on Aug 12.

“This happens in the other parties, too. This is especially so if the politician is dropped unilaterally by the party’s top leadership, and if the politician is not ready to retire. Some still feel that they have the energy to go on,” added Azeem, who is Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies director.

“Generally speaking, party leaders have their own minds, and they are always jostling among themselves to get their people in. They (the disgruntled politicians) can kick and shout all they want, but the top leadership would have made up its mind.

“The repercussions will be known on polling day. The outcome will determine if the top leadership had made the right decision, or not.”

Some argue that the greenhorns must take the cue from party elders, namely ex-chairman Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang, advisor Tan Kok Wai, deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo, and even Aulong assemblyman, Teh Kok Lim, who are known to engage actively with people from all walks of life, and other stakeholders.

Is DAP developing “arrogant” politicians?

“DAP has been performing very well since 2008. They took over, and are still in control of Penang, while the party continues to play an instrumental role in Selangor. This is probably where this sense of ‘aloofness’ and confidence among some of its politicians come in,” said Azeem.

“Some of their politicians feel they are invincible. But the reality is that the sentiment on the ground is difficult to read these days.

“DAP is contesting mostly in non-Malay majority seats. So, of course, some within the party will always feel that they will remain in power,” he added.

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