By Tay Tian Yan
Many claim that a politician should fear a bad teammate more than a tough opponent.
In Malaysian politics today, parties are busy looking for new comrades with the objective of strengthening themselves and weakening their rivals.
The sad thing is, you need to be wary about your comrades who may either bite your back or say the wrong things, in the end lending a hand to the opponents at your own expense.
During Pakatan Harapan’s recent meet-the-people session in Kota Bharu, which is the battle front of Parti Amanah Negara, allies came in to show their support, including DAP, of course.
As usual, the Rocket big boss Lim Kit Siang did not miss the opportunity to give a speech.
He said prospects for a change of federal administration were back, and if Pakatan were to capture Kelantan, he personally hoped Amanah’s vice-president Husam Musa would be menteri besar.
If the speech was delivered among predominantly Chinese voters, both the speaker and his listeners would be excessively excited. It is of secondary importance whether the pledge would eventually be honored.
But, Lim appeared to have forgotten that he was speaking to the Kelantanese audience.
It was supposed to be Amanah’s place where the community base was Muslim Malay. He apparently bypassed Amanah and Pakatan by mentioning Husam as the next MB.
As a matter of fact, Amanah itself had not named anyone in particular as MB candidate.
Without a single seat in the state, DAP lacks political influence and therefore the justification to name an MB candidate.
On what grounds should an ethnically Chinese politician nominate an MB in a state with a 95% Muslim population?
The statement by Lim could even give the Malays a distorted impression that DAP is controlling Amanah.
Moreover, the appointment of MB is the prerogative of the Sultan, and any candidate needs to first get the nod of His Royal Highness.
Having sensed the backlash, Amanah responded a few days later by saying it was purely Lim Kit Siang’s personal view and not Amanah’s decision.
The party even emphasised that it did not take any instruction from the Rocket. But the damage had been done, which a clarification would not undo.
This incident may deepen the already established prejudices Malay society has against DAP, and will give them another reason to reject Amanah.
The thing is, DAP does not seem to understand Malay society and how it has been perceived by them.
Malay society has some reservations about the Rocket, believing that it is taking control of Pakatan Harapan, and that Amanah is merely the party’s puppet which obediently takes instructions from it.
Perhaps there are valid reasons for such belief, or perhaps it is just a fear strategy introduced by Umno and PAS trying to protrude DAP’s Chinese chauvinist image, that will also serve to marginalise Amanah among Malay society.
Whatever it is, the strategy appears to have worked. DAP’s Chinese chauvinist image and Amanah’s puppet impression have penetrated deep into the heart of many a Malay voter.
By right DAP and Amanah should do everything they can to clarify, and prove to Malay society that this is not the case.
But they have not put in enough effort on this, and instead, at times have entrenched the misperception further by doing the wrong things.
The weird thing is, DAP does not actually understand Malay politics even if the party has been operating for decades, nor is it trying to understand the sensitivities and fears in Malay society.
All that the Malays want is political security and political solutions to help them overcome their day-to-day difficulties.
DAP is doing what it has done so successfully among Chinese Malaysians, thinking that they can win the votes by lashing at Umno, raising controversial issues and working up public sentiment.
What works so well with the Chinese community may not work at all in Malay society.
Trying to win the votes of Kelantanese Malays with DAP’s ideologies and Chinese-style political culture will most definitely backfire.
This will do more harm to Amanah than give it a lift.
Tay Tian Yan writes for Sin Chew Daily.
With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s (or organisation’s) personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.