An analyst says the results of DAP’s election for its top decision-making body are likely to complicate efforts to win the support of the Malays, with the majority of those appointed seen as maintaining the party’s “Chinese” image.
At the central executive committee (CEC) election on March 20, only one Malay assemblyman – Ketari rep Young Syefura Othman – was voted in.
Other Malays, even those seen as party heavyweights such as Tebing Tinggi assemblyman Abdul Aziz Bari, former Johor exco Sheikh Umar Ali, and Syahredzan Johan, did not make the cut.
Meanwhile, two other Malay reps who formerly sat on the CEC – Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji and Zairil Khir Johari – were defeated this time around.
Tengku Zulpuri was however appointed to the committee alongside Syahredzan who is Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary.
Sarawak-based political observer Jeniri Amir said the results portrayed DAP’s dilemma in promoting the image of an inclusive Malaysia.
“It looks like after 10 years, the party’s efforts to attract the support of more Malays have not borne fruit,” he told MalaysiaNow.
“Instead, it appears to have regressed.”
While Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo received the highest number of votes at the CEC polls, Jeniri said the Malays had yet to be accepted in DAP.
DAP’s efforts to win Malay support began in the 1960s with personalities such as Ibrahim Singgeh and Ahmad Nor representing the party at the general election.
The party redoubled its efforts to attract and highlight young Malay leaders like Zairil and Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud after the 13th general election.
Dyana contested the 2014 by-election in Teluk Intan but lost to Mah Siew Keong of Gerakan.
For Tebing Tinggi rep Aziz, a former law lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia, the issue of attracting Malay support was not a question at the CEC election.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said the Malays were not DAP’s “power base”.
“As a party, we have many issues to tackle,” he added. “This is a small matter.”
The former Perak exco also said that the CEC election was a “party race” and could not be viewed from the perspective of a Malay or non-Malay dichotomy.
Even if many Malays were elected to the CEC, he added, this did not necessarily mean they would win in elections.
“In party elections, Chinese compete with Chinese and Indians compete with Indians. This is an open competition,” the former PKR member said. “There is no question of the Malays being marginalised.”
Jeniri meanwhile said DAP would face challenges achieving the image of an inclusive party.
He said this was part of the bigger picture of Malaysian politics which is still segregated according to race.
“The Malays will be more cautious, and it’s almost a given that they will not support this party.
“DAP will have bigger problems to deal with,” he said, adding that the party’s slogan of “Malaysian Malaysia” would be difficult to materialise.