The Asian Voice

Bleak future for Malaysian Chinese politics: Sin Chew Daily columnist

There has been dramatic change in the political mindset of Chinese Malaysians, from their initial yearning for stability to joining the Bersih street protests at the forefront of the country's reform movement.
There has been dramatic change in the political mindset of Chinese Malaysians, from their initial yearning for stability to joining the Bersih street protests at the forefront of the country's reform movement.PHOTO: ST FILE

In the article, the writer says that the Democratic Action Party has failed to fight for its supporters' rights.

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Democratic Action Party (DAP) Veteran Leader Lim Kit Siang said his party would lose the Iskandar Puteri parliamentary seat if the general elections were to be held now.

He also said the party would lose between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of votes.

The DAP is trying to win sympathy votes of Chinese Malaysians, but this strategy is no longer effective in winning back their lost faith.

According to The Star, Mr Lim, who is the Iskandar Puteri MP, was heckled on Friday (Aug 9) in his own constituency over the khat (Jawi calligraphy) issue.

The issue surfaced when the Malaysian government introduced Malay-Arabic calligraphy (khat) in the Malay language syllabus for primary school, stirring fears of creeping Islamisation in the racially diverse country.

The party has also tried to palliate the heightened emotions over the Khat issue, claiming that the "floodgates" were already opened way back in 2015, and that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government somehow managed to turn the compulsory and examinable subject - proposed by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration - into one that is optional and non-examinable.

All this has been done in an attempt to persuade the public to accept what has already become a reality, without taking into account the local Chinese community's insistence to have the subject completely withdrawn.

However, it is still possible for the DAP to pool together resources of East Malaysian and Indian communities which are equally resistant to the new education policy.

While we sympathise with Lim Kit Siang for the dilemma he is in at this moment, the DAP should contemplate why the local Chinese community is now forced to defend the integrity of Chinese primary schools in the country and why Chinese Malaysians have lost their confidence in the PH government.


Chinese Malaysians were so adamant about changing the government during the last two elections. Malaysians residing overseas even booked their tickets to fly back here to vote.

Unfortunately, many of them now feel disenchanted because the PH is perceived as not any better than the previous corrupt regime.

During BN's time, Chinese Malaysians aspired to put an end to racism and race-based politics through active participation in politics to reject Umno hegemony so that this country and her people could look forward to a bright tomorrow.

For so many decades, Malaysian Chinese politics had been epitomised as a long-winding journey of constant failures and endless efforts to reverse their ill fate.

In order to secure a political breakthrough, it tried to join hands with Chinese-dominant ruling parties (Malaysian Chinese Association and Gerakan Rakyat) as well as the opposition (DAP) and the local Chinese associations, an initiative that later benefited Gerakan although the objective of "rectifying BN" remained unfulfilled.

In 1986, national Chinese association civil right committee deputy chairman Lim Fong Seng came up with the "two-party system" concept in hope of promoting a healthier democratic development for the country.

After the intensely fought 1990 General Elections, then prime minister Dr Mahathir mooted the "Vision 2020" concept in 1991.

This, coupled with the disintegration of the opposition camp, the homecoming of many Semangat 46 supporters to Umno, and DAP's eventual exit from the opposition alliance, dealt a fatal blow on the two-party system, allowing BN to win by a landslide in 1995.

In the 1999 General Elections, Parti Keadilan Rakyat was born as a sequel to the "Anwar incident", and later joined forces with DAP, Parti Islam SeMalaysia and Parti Rakyat Malaysia to form the Alternative Front.

For fear of more political turmoil and other factors, Chinese voters moved in droves to support BN, giving the effort to thumping BN yet another miss.

Mahathir subsequently equated the Malaysian Chinese election appeals committee as communists and extremists.

After Mahathir's resignation, the government under new prime minister Abdullah Badawi saw the overwhelming support from the local Chinese community.

However, once again they were forced to confront a cruel reality, as Abdullah was not capable of resolving the many problems of the country.

Beginning 2008, Chinese Malaysians were once again resolved to change the status quo, culminating in their fulfilled dream on May 9 last year.

From their faith in BN and MCA to being taken for a ride by the government, Chinese Malaysians subsequently put all their hopes on DAP.

There has been dramatic change in the political mindset of Chinese Malaysians, from their initial yearning for stability to joining the Bersih street protests at the forefront of the country's reform movement.

The Chinese community was completely disappointed with the passive attitude of MCA. As a result, their rights were eroded bit by bit over the years.

They were also well aware of the reality that Umno would never change. They did not want to be exploited in the country's vicious race politics, and hoped to enjoy equal status as other ethnic groups in the country.

Even with the support of 95 per cent Chinese voters, the DAP has failed to fight for its supporters' rights, allowing Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to carry out its racist policies.

The ruling parties have become increasingly arrogant because Chinese voters have put all its eggs into the same basket.

Chinese Malaysians have also learned their lesson that none of the politicians could be trusted, and they should not pin all their hopes on one "saviour" to deliver them out of the current doldrums.

Which way should they head to from here? It appears that neither Umno-PAS nor PH can be trusted, and as such there is still no end in sight for their continued struggle.

The writer is a columnist for Sin Chew Daily. Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media entities.