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Why I am willing to accept Mahathir in the opposition

November 6, 2017

DAP member says if an alliance with Dr Mahathir and PPBM is the way forward to a Malaysia for Malaysians, she is willing to accept it.

COMMENT

mahathir-lim-kit-siangMichelle Ng

I am a 27-year-old member of DAP. When the announcement was first made that PPBM would be joining the opposition coalition, I could not stomach it.

I shook my head at the idea of working with a political party with a race-based facade. We, the opposition, had long fought against the laws, policies and institutional and social fragmentation that occurred during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s era – how could we turn our backs on our work all these years and now sleep with the devil, so to speak?

I figured there must have been a reason for this move, and decided that instead of criticising, I would choose to first listen to my leaders. In doing so, I effectively had a mirror held up in front of me for a good, hard look at myself. I realised that the questions I asked had reflected on me as well. Let me explain why.

I learned that my views came from ideals – the ideal that Malaysians should be treated equally regardless of race or religion. But I learned that ideals cannot be imposed onto present reality – they are two opposites that repel each other. To achieve our ideals, we must work from reality.

And our reality is this: Outside our cities and suburbs (and perhaps even within) live a majority of our fellow Malaysians who are a product of racial and religious fragmentation from the old regime.

Through no fault of their own, they think, communicate and operate in a particular fashion, such that they tend to trust those from the same race and religion quite a bit more. You and I do not understand them, and perhaps never fully will.

Bring a DAP ceramah into the estates, and we would be lucky to have 50 attendees. But bring a PPBM ceramah with the same message into the same estate, and we see it thronged with thousands of attendees.

The people who can relate to them understand this social fragmentation. They are the people who can convince them to break off from what they have been made to believe. If that is the best way forward, I am willing to stomach our alliance with Mahathir if this means achieving that goal of a Malaysia for Malaysians.

Let us remember that the opposition did not go to them. They came to the opposition.

I gain strength in observing my leaders – Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim, in particular – who have expressed such grace in the opposition’s decision to work with Mahathir.

The very men who suffered during that regime and who were incarcerated and tortured have forgiven him. Why can’t I, someone who is, at best, an indirect recipient of that regime?

I looked in that mirror and chose to overcome my pride and come to terms with what I do not know.

I do not need an apology to forgive. As Eva Mozes Kor, a Holocaust survivor, said: forgiveness is a power that I exercise towards self-healing, self-liberation and self-empowerment. The tragic part is that we cannot change what happened, but we can change how we relate to it.

Enough of chaining ourselves to the past. We must get down to business.

Michelle Ng is a member of DAP, a practising lawyer and the DAP legal bureau secretary. She graduated with a Bachelor of Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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