Monday, May 16, 2022

As Kit Siang era draws to a close, what future for DAP?

While key factions will remain, the party as a whole is expected to remain intact within Pakatan Harapan. 

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Analysts expect DAP to remain united following the political retirement of party veteran Lim Kit Siang, one of DAP’s most well known personalities and a familiar face for decades on the opposition front. 

Kit Siang announced his retirement at the DAP national congress last weekend, saying he would contest neither a seat on the party’s central executive committee nor the general election to come. 

The Iskandar Puteri MP had served as the parliamentary opposition leader and opposition chief, and holds the record for the party’s longest serving secretary-general, carrying out his duties from 1970 to 1999. 

James Chin of Australia’s University of Tasmania said Kit Siang’s retirement would not trigger splits within the party. 

“The key factions will remain,” he said to MalaysiaNow. “People are just looking towards the election to see who is elected.”

Noting the faction led by DAP’s new secretary-general Anthony Loke, he said it as well as others had existed for a long time without any problems. 

Loke, the Seremban MP, replaced Kit Siang’s son, Lim Guan Eng, as the party’s de facto leader. Guan Eng, who had served the maximum three terms allowed for the post, was elected as DAP’s national chairman. 

Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who gained the most votes with 1,782, remained as national deputy chairman. 

Chow Kon Yeow meanwhile garnered 1,641 and Loke, 1,625. Guan Eng came in eighth with 1,311 votes.

Other big names who lost the contest for the central executive committee included Damansara MP Tony Pua, Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming, and Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin. 

Analyst Wong Chin Huat said no clear faction had yet appeared at the national level although smaller groups existed at the state level. 

“Loke got widespread support from his peers,” Wong of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia told MalaysiaNow. 

“His consultative leadership style will also guarantee him continued support,” he said. 

Adding that DAP remained intact as a party within Pakatan Harapan (PH), he said the real question was PKR.

“Since 2020, not a single MP from DAP has jumped ship,” he said. “DAP will remain in PH although it might want to change the nature of the coalition.

“It cannot afford to leave PH as it needs the Malay voters.” 

On Kit Siang’s long career in politics, Chin said even his enemies could not deny the role he had played since 1965.

“Even his greatest detractors including those who hate him the most cannot deny this,” he said. 

“Whether or not you like DAP, it is clear that he is one of the towering figures in Malaysian politics. He will go down as somebody who always fought for minority or non-Malay rights. That will be his legacy.”

If Kit Siang had a second legacy, Chin added, it was longevity. “He has stayed in politics his entire adult life. That is rare.” 

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