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Why DAP should act ‘cool’ with the Registrar of Societies

July 17, 2017

The statements made by the DAP must be mature, conciliatory and measured as this is the only way to take the power out of the agitators.



I am not saying DAP is being treated fairly by the Registrar of Societies (RoS). It is the reaction from the party thus far that has troubled me.

True, the RoS issued a public statement instructing DAP to hold fresh polls for its central executive committee (CEC).

DAP may be angry. That said, I feel the party should not react to the public statement so abrasively. They ought to know how the game is played by now. Reacting harshly will only make the situation worse.

Following the public statement by the RoS, the best way for DAP to react is to issue a statement that the party will wait for the RoS’ official letter informing them of the details required, period. There is no need to add salt and pepper.

If no official letter from the RoS is forthcoming after a reasonable time (say, a week or two), the party should then find out the relevant laws as applied to public statements made by a government department/agency. Are public statements good enough to replace official notifications? There are so many lawyers in DAP, I am sure they can find this out.

I think it is unnecessary to issue ultimatums to the RoS to issue the letter within a certain timeframe. Why further aggravate  a lousy situation? Why issue threats and ultimatums to the RoS when the party has neither the means nor the power to carry them out? It only serves to undermine its own self-respect.

DAP should understand the “culture” of government departments and agencies by now. Why complain to the Public Service Department (PSD) about the performance of the RoS? Why demand that the director-general of the RoS resign, and label him unprofessional? I think DAP should be smarter than carrying out these meaningless antics.

Whatever the difficult circumstances faced by DAP or any political party, the reaction taken and the statements made must be mature, conciliatory and measured. It does not matter that others are unreasonable or playing hardball. Have we not heard of this phrase by Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high”? It is useless to act tough when it achieves nothing but only serves to embarrass the party further.

I am a novice in politics. But this is how I would react to the RoS’ public statement instructing the party to reconvene the re-election of its CEC:

  • The party will wait for an official notification from the RoS following its public statement, full stop. There is no need for the party to say anything further.
  • After a reasonable time has elapsed and if there is no official letter from the RoS, there are two alternatives available to DAP.

First, the party will write to the RoS asking for details of the public statement made by them and wait for the reply. Again, a reasonable amount of time must be given for them to reply. If no reply is forthcoming, then the problem is with the RoS, not DAP.

Second, the party will study the relevant laws on public statements made by a government agency or department. Can that per se constitute an official notification? If so, the party will again write to the RoS, seeking not official notification, but details of the public statement made. Again, I think it is the duty of the RoS to reply to official letters from DAP.

If the party receives no reply from the RoS, then I believe it is no longer the fault of DAP. The party should continue functioning normally. Remember, we still have a judiciary to decide even though it may not be a perfect one. I believe there is always a “reasonableness” test to rely on.

It is unnecessary to run around like a headless chicken over issues that are not entirely within the control of the party. If others choose to irritate and play hardball, reacting harshly and abrasively will not help.

Act cool, it will take the power out of the agitators.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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