The Chinese have a proverb that goes something like this: ”It is better to light a candle than to curse at the darkness”.
The Chinese for all their faults and as a generalization are a very pragmatic and resourceful community wherever they are to be found. Not amongst the DAP in Malaysia it would seem though.
Lim Kit Siang is the longest known serving leader of any political party languishing in the wilderness without the slightest hint of government within his grasp.
Much of this, according to sources close to the man, is the result of his inability to achieve total dominance of the Malay peninsula and east Malaysia, something his party has aspired to.
It is a redundant dream he clings on to like that character of the jilted Ms. Faversham in Charles Dicken’s ‘Oliver Twist’.
Kit Siang is very much a man of the past. His admissions to failure could not be more stark and telling than his recent disastrous alliance with the much despised former Premier Mahathir Mohamed, who himself in an act of desperation moved on to then embrace his nemesis Anwar Ibrahim, further tainting Lim’s reputation through guilt by association.
Lim (and the DAP) must change direction. They must change or be white anted by their own weaknesses. The DAP is already showing signs of coming apart at the seams.
Like in a relationship gone wrong, Lim is the last one to know of the ‘infidelities’ and the undermining of his party by frustrated long serving and loyal members moving out.
Lim has his head buried very much in the sands of time. Unless of course Lim will dig deeply into his Chinese sense of pragmatism and resourcefulness to tap into reality, the DAP’s fortunes are but a foregone conclusion.
It is not as if the Chinese, even as Dapsters, cannot be more productive in Parliament or even in government.
But they are not there.
All they have to do is to come to the table with the government and negotiate (not demand).
After all if at the last general election they could mass migrate as Chinese to the opposition in the belief the opposition was about to win government only to be disappointed by a government victory, they can with their heads held high become a part of a new coalition with the government.
Inspite of the Chinese tsunami at the last general election, the government has not sidelined or punished the Chinese community.
They continue to prosper as they always have.
Mahathir has promised the DAP the moon and sixpence. It is a foregone conclusion Lim will not get the moon in the event of an unlikely Mahathir led victory.
He may have to settle for sixpence instead if there is any change left there, if it happens.
But sixpence buys very little these days.
Lim and the DAP must realize and come to terms with the futility of the decades long very personal, very destructive campaign run by their allies.
Bersih, the PKR, the Malaysian Bar and a host of other foreign funded so called NGO’s fighting the government have achieved nothing.
There are no rewards in losing. There is no utility in continuing to feed and maintain an army that can’t fight government- these are Lim’s allies.
If after 10 years of foreign funding and support his allies still can’t get it right, they are unlikely to ever get it right.
The DAP needs to move on and find greener pastures.
If however, the DAP were to negotiate with government for an accommodation before the next general election in order to, at the very least ensure the prosperity of all communities and assure the political and interracial stability of Malaysia, there could well be a very sympathetic hearing that awaits them in Putrajaya.
Lim’s party and his constituents will be the beneficiaries. The nation will benefit from it as a whole.
Sniping from the sidelines with no costed policies in place or any real alternatives to government is not what anyone least of all the Chinese want.
Neither side should see negotiation as a sign of weakness or ‘loss of face’.
It is a strategy only the intelligent engage in. One side has a lot to lose by not being bold enough to take the initiative to negotiate and to do so in confidence.
That side would have to be the DAP. Government has a majority whichever way one looks at it.
Conventional politics is a thing of the past.
Regardless of how loud the opposition coalition is and predicts prospective victories, it is without a shadow of doubt going to be another Barisan Nasional (BN) victory at the next general election.
This is especially true if the general election is brought forward and held within the next few months.
Independent polls indicate quite clearly, the government has regained its super majority and is likely to enjoy a crushing victory over all elements of the opposition if for no other reason than the opposition is in complete disarray, is unreliable and inconsistent with its many faceted desperate experiments with the devil.
As it is, there have been unofficial ongoing negotiations and discussions between the government and talented veteran members of the opposition parties including the DAP.
The more mature and realistic amongst them are positioning themselves to be part of a future government.
Many realise they can make a contribution to what is perhaps a golden era in the economic and political development of Malaysia.
With significant foreign investment flowing in, it is not the opposition who will reap the rewards. They won’t be able to achieve that being in the opposition.
Fortune favours the brave. And there are a growing number of braves within the opposition who don’t relish another term in the political wilderness. Kit Siang has to be aware of this fact.
順手牽羊／顺手牵羊 (Shùn shǒu qiān yáng) literally translated in English, this Chinese proverb means: “While carrying out your plans be flexible enough to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, however small, and avail yourself of any profit, however slight”.
On the other side of the coin, any infusion of fresh blood into the stale MCA, MIC and even the fractious Umno, will probably necessitate a rethink by those who continue to underperform and undermine the government from within.
Competition is necessary to fuel the level of growth and dynamism that is necessary for the advancement of the political, economic and social agenda of government and industry.
And there is sufficient human capital to tap into from the ranks of a redundant unstable opposition.
After all, both Malaysia and Singapore have gone through changes and stages of political horseflesh trading like they do in the developed countries that have resulted in stronger government and in government performance.
Singapore has benefited immensely without a ‘cosmetic opposition’ in their way.
Lim and his leadership can either lead the negotiations from the front or be forced to react to departing dissidents within his party voting with their feet.
No situation remains constant forever. Except for the Malay majority, a fact we all have to come to grips with.
Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim (Former DAP national vice-chairman)