Dr. Mahathir should look within himself and within his own party UMNO to discover who the real ‘racists’ are

In Dr. Mahathir’s chequered career as a politician, he has always looked for ‘bogeymen’ in order to divert attention from his own shortcomings and that of UMNO as well as the Barisan Nasional coalition. It seems that he has now come full circle by once again blaming the Chinese and also the DAP for increasing racial polarization in Malaysia and for being ‘chauvinists’.

One can only guess if Dr. Mahathir’s post-GE13 barrage against the Chinese and the DAP is driven by his own blind prejudices or by fears that his true legacy will be revealed for all to see if Pakatan wins power in Putrajaya or by growing senility or perhaps all of the above.

What we do know is that his accusations that DAP is a chauvinist party that plays on racial sentiment to draw Chinese support away from the BN is nothing but a pack of lies that is totally divorced from reality.

The fact that Dr. Mahathir can say that ‘When it (DAP) held elections to its Central Committee recently other than Karpal Singh all the members elected were Chinese’ shows his utter disregard for facts in his crazed attempts to ‘brand’ DAP as a ‘chauvinist’ party.[1] A simple ‘google check’ would have shown Dr. Mahathir that M.Kulasegaran (current MP for Ipoh Barat), Gobind Singh Deo (current MP for Puchong) and Zairil Khir Johari (current MP for Bukit Bendera) were all elected into the Central Committee. The records will also show that DAP has had Indian and Malay leaders elected into the Central Executive Committee (CEC) in every single party elections since the formation of the party in 1966.

If Dr. Mahathir had bothered to examine the current DAP leadership line-up on our website [2], he would see that we have Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban and Kadazan members in our Central Executive Committee. Rather than pointing the finger at the DAP, Dr. Mahathir should ask himself how many non-Malay leaders have been elected or appointed into the UMNO Supreme Council to answer the question of who the real racists are.

Since Dr. Mahathir seems incapable of using the internet to check facts or perhaps he lacks the resources to hire a proper research assistant, let me highlight to him DAP’s record as a multiracial party that has competed in 11 general elections since 1969.

The DAP has fielded non-Chinese candidates in each general election since 1969 at the parliament and state levels (See Table 1 below). In fact, in some of these elections, DAP’s Malay candidates at the parliament (1995) and state (1974, 1978, 1982) outnumbered the Indian candidates.

With the exception of the 1999 general elections, the DAP has had at least one non-Chinese MP or ADUN. Prior to the 2013 GE, DAP Malay candidates were successful in winning state seats in the 1969, 1974, 1982, 1986 and 1990 general elections and in winning a parliament seat in the 1990 general elections.

In the 1969 GE, Ibrahim bin Singgeh defeated an UMNO candidate in N39 Tapah in Perak while Haji Hassan bin Haji Ahmad defeated an UMNO candidate in N14 Si Rusa in Negeri Sembilan.

In the 1974 GE, Daing Ibrahim bin Othman defeated an MCA candidate in N23 Pasir Puteh in Perak.

In the 1982 GE, Mohd Fadzlan bin Yahya defeated an MCA candidate in N37 Pasir Bedamar in Perak. He retained this seat in the 1986 GE.

In the 1990 GE, Ahmad Nor became the first DAP Malay MP by defeating an MCA candidate in the P47 Bayan Baru seat. In the same elections, Fadzlan Yahya defeated an MCA candidate in N24 Lahat while Mohd Asri defeated a GERAKAN candidate in N19 Dermawan, both in Perak.

Table 1: Number of non-Chinese candidates fielded by DAP from 1969 to 2013 general elections

Parliament State
Year Indian* Malay Others** Total Indian* Malay Others** Total
1969 3 1 4 6 9 15
1974 7 5 12 15 31 46
1978 9 9 18 14 21 35
1982 9 8 17 15 19 34
1986 8 3 11 15 12 27
1990 7 4 11 15 5 20
1995 6 8 14 16 13 29
1999 8 4 12 16 3 19
2004 5 3 8 6 2 8
2008 8 2 10 16 1 17
2013 8 3 7 18 16 1 1 18

*Including Eurasions ** Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera

The DAP broke new ground in 2013 by fielding 7 Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera parliamentary candidates. In fact, DAP fielded more Sarawak Bumiputera candidates (6) compared to Chinese candidates (5) in Sarawak.

The DAP also broke new ground in 2013 with the successful election of 2 Malay MPs (Zairil Khair Johari in Bukit Bendera, Penang and Mohd Ariff Sabri bin Abdul Aziz in Raub, Pahang), 1 Malay ADUN (Tengku Zulpuri Shah bin Raja Puji in Mentakab in Pahang) and 1 Kadazan ADUN (Dr. Edwin Bosi in Kepayan in Sabah).

In terms of Indian representation, DAP now has more Indian MPs (6) and ADUNs (14) compared to MIC (4 MPs and 5 ADUNs).

Dr. Mahathir also accused the DAP of fielding Chinese candidates only in Chinese majority constituencies. Again, Dr. Mahathir has failed miserably to do his homework. The DAP fielded 8 Chinese candidates in non-Chinese majority parliamentary seats including P135 Alor Gajah which is 58% Malay. DAP won 7 of these mixed parliament seats including P128 Seremban which is 44% Malay, 41% Chinese and 14% Indian.

DAP also fielded 12 Chinese candidates in non-Chinese majority state seats including N1 Titi Tinggi in Perlis which is 76% Malay and N14 Kelebang in Melaka which is 60% Malay. The DAP won 10 out of these 12 state seats including N11 Derga in Kedah which is 56% Malay and N21 Duyong which is 50% Malay.

All in all, DAP won 9 parliament and 17 state seats which were non-Chinese majority (less than 50% Chinese voters) including P80 Raub which is a 50% Malay parliament seat and also N30 Mentakab, which is a 50% Malay state seat. Both of these seats were contested and won by DAP Malay candidates.

In contrast, of the 73 of the parliament seats held by UMNO in Peninsular Malaysia, only 2 were non Malay majority (Pasir Gudang and Pulai in Johor) ( less than 50% Malay). And of the 210 state seats held by UMNO in Peninsular Malaysia, only 3 were non-Malay majority seats (N5 Tenang, N27 Layang Layang and N49 Nusa Jaya)(less than 50% Malay). None were Chinese majority seats. If Dr. Mahathir wants to accuse DAP Chinese candidates of contesting only in non-Chinese majority seats, perhaps he should first start by looking at UMNO and ask why UMNO is contesting in only Malay majority seats. In fact, the only time that UMNO has contested in a Chinese majority seat is when UMNO ‘sacrificed’ former Johor Menteri Besar, Abdul Ghani Othman, by sending him to compete in the 52% Chinese majority seat of Gelang Patah where I was contesting.

The so-called ‘indisputable fact’ alleged by Dr. Mahathir that ‘DAP has succeeded in destroying the collaboration or sharing between the difference races as exemplified by the BN coalition’ is nothing but a flight of fantasy. What is indisputable is the fact that within the BN, there is no true collaboration but rather domination by UMNO. This was seen in the recent 13th general elections when MCA was forced to give up three of its parliament seats to UMNO – Kuantan, Wangsa Maju and Gelang Patah – all of which was lost by UMNO. Whenever UMNO says ‘jump’, the BN component parties will say ‘how high’. This domination by UMNO will only grow as it loses confidence in its coalition partners’ ability to deliver seats.

For Dr. Mahathir to say that ‘Pakatan is not a true coalition’ is another example of his increasing delusion and control of facts. There is no first among equals among Pakatan parties. PKR, DAP and PAS are co-equals at the table unlike the BN. There is a genuine negotiation between all three parties unlike the BN. The selection of Anwar Ibrahim as the leader of the opposition was unanimous among the Pakatan parties even though PKR did not win the most number of parliament seats. PAS and DAP supported Khalid Ibrahim as the Menteri Besar of Selangor even though each party won more state seats (15 each) compared to PKR (14). All three Pakatan parties won more state seats in the 13th general election, something which Dr. Mahathir has conveniently forgotten. There is no intention for any one Pakatan party to ‘dominate’ the politics within Pakatan much less so at the national level as alleged by Dr Mahathir.

Dr. Mahathir should instead point the finger at himself, at UMNO and at the BN coalition for being the true culprits behind increasing racial polarization. It was Dr. Mahathir who worked behind the scenes as Perkasa advisor to all PERKASA leaders – Zulkifli Nordin and Ibrahim Ali – to run as de factor candidates in GE13. It was Utusan who played up racial sentiment to increase the fear among the Malays by creating lies and fiction about the DAP. It was MCA who published fear mongering advertisements in the English and Chinese press and in the Chinese radio stations in order to increase racial polarization between the Chinese and the Muslims in Malaysia.

If there is one thing that I can agree with Dr. Mahathir on is this statement that ‘racial polarization has become more pronounced’ and that ‘it will become more so in the future’. The blame for this lies squarely on the shoulders of BN leaders including past leaders like Dr. Mahathir. The only way for us to move away from ‘racial polarization’ is not to continue to support the BN but to look at Pakatan as the hope for the future and to PKR, PAS and DAP as multiracial parties who fielded candidates from not just one race during the 13th general election and who continues to fight for the rights of Malaysians regardless of race, language, religion and background.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah