Expanding political network, enhancing ground work and injecting new bloods are 3 core areas that DAPSY leaders and members must play an important role within the party.

Speech at Johor DAPSY State Convention
by Loke Siew Fook

(Johor, Sunday):14 months had passed since the last general elections and the feeling of the new administration unable to “walk the talk” is increasingly stronger. Is there any positive changes in the country so far that can be felt on the ground although the Barisan Nasional government secured the biggest ever mandate in the history of the nation at the 11th General Elections held on 21st March last year?

The only thing that I can say there is a change is the fact that there are some space for the opposition in the broadcast media now like the weekly current issue talk show conducted in Mandarin in Astro AEC and the RTM1’s “Debat Perdana” where DAP leaders have the opportunities to be panelists which is something never enjoyed in the past.


But this is only cosmetic changes. What we want is more fundamental changes for a genuine press freedom like the repeal of the repressive Printings and Publications Act where newspapers need to renew their licenses annually and the banning of political parties ownership of media companies.




Eradication of corruption was the hallmark of Pak Lah’s campaign during last year’s general elections. We must always remind Malaysians that the primary pledge of Pak Lah to Malaysians is to be the modern “Justice Bao” in Malaysia. Has he been able to follow the footstep of “Justice Bao” so far?


If there is a living “Justice Bao” in Malaysia today, the case of a senior police officer having RM34 million assets mentioned in the report of the Royal Commission on Police will be immediately brought to the court of justice. Two nights ago when I spoke in a Penang DAP dinner, I joked that as a State Assemblyman, in order to accumulate a fortune of RM34 million, I need to serve more than 500 years!


During a speech in an international conference in Kuala Lumpur last month, Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said that in Singapore if a government leader or senior official is being accused of living beyond his means, the accused must prove that he or she is not guilty of corruption. The difference in Malaysia is that the prosecution must prove that the person is corrupted although he or she might have assets beyond their incomes and not for the accused to prove that they are clean.


The fight against corruption in Malaysia will remain plain rhetoric unless the Badawi Administration is prepared to make the most fundamental reform that is to make the Anti-Corruption Agency a truly independent body answerable only to Parliament and not the Prime Minister’s Department.




On the economic front, the situation is not as rosy as the government is trying to paint. Although the government is trying to boast the 5.7% economic growth in the first quarter of the year, the figure is not a reflection of the real economic situation faced by the people on the ground. The unfair increase in petrol and diesel prices early this month will have serious repercussions on prices of goods and the costs of livings of the people. The lower income group will again feel the pinch the most.


The bad economic situation in the country is hampering the development of our youth. It is no longer news that many graduates failed to get a job upon their graduation unlike the booming years in the early 90s where graduates-to-be had the luxuries of choosing their dream jobs. This is a very unhealthy situation and an alarming one. If even those educated youth faced unemployment problems, then what about those youth who are not highly educated?


Recently there is a news report stating that credit cards debts have reached a very alarming situation. The debtors to credit card companies are increasing at a very fast rate and most of them are youth below 40 years old. The cases of credit card debtors being sued and made bankrupt had increased tremendously as well.


One will ask why the government is being so lenient in the requirements for new credit card holders. Isn’t this the best way to boost our domestic consumptions by allowing more people to apply for credit cards especially youth? I wonder if the domestic economy will be even worst if not because of the spending through credit cards. However, the consequence to the financial well-being of our youth is very worrying.




In the education sector, things have not changed for better as well. The issues and problems faced by Chinese and Tamil primary schools are still there and there is no sign whatsoever that the new administration is committed to the growth of vernacular schools. The standard of higher education has dropped so low and the recent controversy of University Malaya’s renowned academician Associate Professor Edmund Terence Gomez being denied a secondment to Geneva to take up a United Nation research project for two years and was forced to resign had further plunged the reputations of our public universities.


Although it sounds that the nation is not heading to the right direction and there are a lot of dissatisfactions of the people on the ground, we shall never assume that this will definitely translated into votes for the opposition especially the DAP in the next general elections. I am not overly optimistic as Malaysians are known to have short memories and the fact that Barisan Nasional is a good spinner during elections.


Be that as it may, DAPSY members must convince ourselves that if we want true political reform in the country, we have no other ways except to make the DAP a stronger political force in the country. As the youth wing of the party, there are at least 3 core areas that we shall play an active part to strengthen the party.


Expanding political network


We must admit that our political strength is still limited without working with other political forces. We shall not dismiss any possibilities of forging new opposition alliances in the country. As the youth wing of the party, we shall encourage more debates and discussions among our members on the matter. However, I must stress that I am not in any way suggesting that the party considers rejoining Barisan Alternatif (BA) with PAS as the core member as it is PAS with its theocratic brand of politics is the main reason why we left BA in the first place. Any association with PAS is not tenable and must be ruled out.


We shall focus our energy to build a strong political network and strengthen our cooperation with other progressive forces whether there are political parties, NGOs, associations, youth groups, student movements or any social movements. Our political network must be enlarged to reach a wider spectrum of the society. There are many small interest groups in the country but they are disorganized and not sharing a same platform. The biggest challenge of the party is how we can unite all of them to create a national movement to seek for genuine reform in the country.


Enhancing our political work on the ground


DAPSY leaders and members at the divisional level play a very important role in expanding our political influence on the ground. We are the face of the party in our respective constituencies and therefore we must always be seen with the people. The general perception that politicians can only be seen once in every 5 years must be done away. We must prove to the people that those only applied to BN politicians and not the DAP.


Therefore, DAPSY leaders must lead by example by working doubly hard on the ground whether you are the elected representative in the constituency or not. Irrespective of whether we are handling public complaints, exposing local scandals or the weaknesses of the local councils, organizing local campaigns or speaking up on public interest, DAPSY leaders must be on the very fore-front. We must be seen as sincere and always ready to reach out our helping hands to the vulnerable.


In this new era of information technology, I must stress that we must be bold to be innovative and creative in our daily political work. In whatever we do or say, we must be able to put across our message in the most effective way and the issue we raise up must be felt immediately by the people that it is something relevant to them and close to their hearts. Creative organizing and publicity are important integral parts of politics.


Injecting new blood in the party


Recruiting young members and in the process injecting new blood into the party is one of the most important roles of DAPSY. We will have no future without this rejuvenation process. Therefore, it is an important mission for all DAPSY leaders and members to convince not only young Malaysians, but more importantly young female Malaysians to join the party. We must acknowledge that young female Malaysians are increasingly an important political force who are very concern of their rights as illustrated in the recent campaign to end discriminatory practices against female cabin crew of MAS but they are still very under-represented in politics.


Our youngest female MP, the trademark “cili padi” of Malaysian Parliament Sdri. Fong Po Kuan is the pride of DAPSY. I heard there is now another “cili padi” of DAPSY Johor who had won the DAPSY Johor Vice Chairperson post unopposed, Sdri. Dr. Teo. This is a good sign and we want more “cili padis” from DAPSY up and down the country.


Our trademark “cili padi” is so well known till even the aspiring politicians in Wanita MCA are trying to copy it. In the just concluded MCA divisional elections, one of the candidates for the Wanita MCA Chief for Rasah division in Negeri Sembilan tried to project herself as the “cili padi” of MCA and used the example of Sdri. Fong Po Kuan being elected as MP at the age of 26 to justified her nomination. But i said they are not the "hot cili padis".


DAPSY leaders at the divisional and state level must be more proactive in recruiting young talents into the party. We must be prepared to use new approaches and try new ideas in organizing our political activities to attract the interest of the younger generations who are by and large still very apathetic towards politics.


* Loke Siew Fook, DAPSY National Secretary and Negeri Sembilan State Assemblyman for Lobak.