Khairy is right, DAP holds monopoly over Chinese votes

Kenneth Cheng Chee Kin

Does DAP have hegemony over the Chinese vote? – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 1, 2023.

I AM a faithful listener of the “Keluar Sekejap” podcast hosted by Khairy Jamaluddin and Shahril Hamdan.

Whatever opinions you may have about the two politicians who have decided to take a hiatus from politics only to start talking about politics, seemingly from an outsider perspective, there is no denying the podcast has injected some level-headedness into Malaysian politics that have been dominated by rabid and biased views. 

I want to share a personal favourite moment in the episode in which former MP Ong Kian Ming of DAP was a guest to discuss Chinese politics and the role of his party in the coalition government.

While it may not be the best episode per se, a small part of the conversation in particular caught my attention at the time. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s recent discharge from his corruption trial and his later appearance in the DAP convention jogged my memory of that segment. 

When the two hosts asked Ong about DAP’s dominance of Chinese votes, the guest implied that DAP could only count on the support of the Chinese for one more general election.

Khairy disagreed saying DAP was essentially election-proof while Shahril pointed out that the Chinese had no choice but to hold their nose down and vote DAP. 

Ong said there were lines DAP must not cross if it wished to keep the Chinese votes, the freeing of Najib Razak being one of the lines.

Again, Khairy was not convinced. He said DAP would continue to support the government even if it pardoned the former prime minister in jail for corruption.

The surprising thing here was not how right Khairy and Shahril were but rather how Ong, as an ethnic Chinese and former DAP legislator, could not read the Chinese mood.

Khairy was absolutely correct in saying that the Chinese would stay loyal to DAP, at least for the next 10 years. There is ample evidence to suggest that this is the case.

Ong talked about the emergence of smaller but progressive parties as the third force that could challenge DAP for urban Chinese support. But the case of former Sungai Siput MP Jeyakumar Devaraj of PSM show that exemplary service counts for nothing to the Chinese if you are not in the Pakatan Harapan camp.

Muda and PSM’s disastrous results in Chinese areas during the recent state elections also indicate that the Chinese are not ready to abandon DAP or PH just yet even though their reform promises have fallen flat and compromises have been made with Umno.

DAP and its supporters appear to have accepted the release of Zahid from his corruption charges and hade even welcomed the deputy prime minister to the party congress. It would be naive to think there are still lines DAP would not cross to continue supporting the coalition government.

If Najib were to get a pardon later, chances are DAP would be forced to stomach the decision.

Khairy was absolutely spot-on in his assessment of the Chinese mood. Any politician worth his salt would surely not have disagreed with him when he predicted that DAP would continue to win comfortably in Chinese-majority urban areas because the reality now is that the party can do anything and the Chinese will still vote for it.

It is astonishing that Ong has failed to see this when you consider the Chinese psyche as a minority in Malaysia.

But there are signs DAP is taking Chinese support for granted and this does not bode well for democracy.

Aside from putting in abeyance the problems of equality, fairness and human rights in the name of holding back the “green wave” of support for PAS, DAP has compromised on corruption issues that were previously deemed to be the party’s raison d’être.

The blame must also be shared by the Chinese who continue to reward DAP with a huge majority without calling the party to account.

But then again, who else can the Chinese turn to other than DAP? And that is the Chinese dilemma in modern Malaysia. – October 1, 2023.

* Kenneth Cheng has always been interested in the interplay between human rights and government but more importantly he is a father of two cats, Tangyuan and Toufu. When he is not attending to his feline matters, he is most likely reading books about politics and human rights or playing video games. He is a firm believer in the dictum “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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  • The Chinese are behaving in this manner because in their minds, the alternative is PN if they fail to throw their absolute and complete support behind DAP/PH. Just look at how before GE15 the Chinese social media was full of vilification of Zahid but as soon as it was clear that PN could have been the federal government had BN opted to be with PN, the Chinese social media transformed overnight into admirers of Zahid with phrases like "Zahid, I love you so much" once it became clear that Zahid had brought BN into the PH fold. It was a mass expression of utter relief and gratitude that the country had "escaped" the clutches of PN for now. For as long as PN remains what it is today and PH-BN does not veer to the right and become "worse" than PN in the eyes of the eyes of the Chinese community or those holding same views, many Chinese voters would probably feel like they have no option but to continue to vote for DAP/PH even if there is growing dissatisfaction for what is perceived to be broken promises on reforms etc.

    Posted 7 months ago by L - · Reply