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By K Temoc

Kit Siang in Johor will be as earth-shaking as 308

I refer to your news article ‘Guan Eng sends Liew on mission to 'K' seat in Johor’ which informs us of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) election strategy to breach the Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold in Johor. By now, everyone knows that veteran politician Lim Kit Siang will not stand in his current blue ribbon seat in Ipoh Timor in order to offer himself as an election candidate to the people of Gelang Patah in Johor to represent them in the next federal parliament.

His intention has struck terror in the BN camp, which has even drawn out former PM and Umno icon Dr Mahathir Mohamad to make what I see as a half-hearted but obligatory dismissal of the DAP man’s candidature in Gelang Patah.

Lim KS standing in and winning that Johor federal constituency will be as earth-shaking as the 2008 political tsunami. More than the BN’s fear of losing a federal seat, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) knows that such an occurrence will virtually be its death knell, for a Lim KS victory will not only defeat Tan Ah Eng, its candidate in Gelang Patah, but will effectively strike right into its political heart.

So much is at stake for BN but no more than that for Lim KS.

And of course we aren’t surprised that A Kadir Jasin, a pro-Umno blogger (and former group editor-in-chief of NSTP Bhd and at times also a Berita Harian columnist) has taken up the cudgels against DAP in his blog post ‘Johor Ahoy, Here Comes Lim Kit Siang’.

Really, there is nothing new or substantial in his post, with its core appeal or subtext being nothing more than the ‘Malay unity’ mantra again, telling or rather warning his readership of the alleged formidable DAP juggernaut with its 30 percent solid Chinese voting bloc once the Pakatan component party has demolished MCA, in contrast to what he bemoans as the Malay-bumiputera votes being split three ways among Umno, PAS and PKR.

Of course he neglects to inform his readership of several truths, that firstly, the DAP isn’t and won’t be the only Pakatan component party to command Chinese votes which would also go to PKR.

Secondly and far more importantly, he fails or conveniently forgets to explain why the MCA and the Gerakan Party, two Chinese-based (or Chinese-majority) members of the BN, will not be obtaining any of the 30 percent Chinese votes in Johor. If only he would be brave enough to admit that DAP’s election strategy in Johor has been based in large part on the failures of the BN to satisfactorily represent the non-Malay voters there.

The conventional wisdom in political competition is that parties do not win but rather lose an election, thus DAP’s current concerted move into Johor, a hitherto BN fortress, is in anticipation of a major loss by the MCA in its traditional seats, an indication of the voting public’s lack of confidence in the Chinese-based BN party.

Pak Kadir has actually signalled this BN-MCA fear when he laments that “the concentration of Chinese votes under one party [meaning DAP] would worsen further the already acute racial polarisation in the political arena.”

A crying Sang Buaya

It is quite amusing that Pak Kadir, a known Umno mouthpiece, who has recently made disappointing remarks about the loyalty of Chinese in his earlier post ‘Sabah Incursion: Hang the Traitors’ could bring himself to pontificate about racial polarisation. But then I suppose his targeted readership may not consider him as I do, a crying Sang Buaya.

In his post he also echoes the MCA, though in more subtle fashion, in criticizing Lim KS as a political rolling stone which presumably is unlikely to gather any moss, having contested in four states. Let me quickly correct the traditional impression of that out-dated proverb, for today we don’t want a politician to be slimy as gathered moss, so Lim KS and other DAP politicians should roll as much and as far as is necessary for the public good.

But perhaps Pak Kadir should not make comments out of context, by not mentioning that Lim KS’ courageous political career spans a period of almost 45 years. How could contesting in four states in almost half a century be unusual? Where the need arises for his presence, Lim KS would be there.

Also, unlike many BN politicians who prefer to huddle in safe and comfortable blue ribbon seats for their own political interests, Lim KS is prepared to put his political career where his mouth is. He goes where his party wants him.

Pak Kadir is also wrong in stating that the DAP prime consideration for descending on Johor is to kill off the MCA, having already delivered a knock-out blow to Gerakan in Penang in 2008. His analysis has been superficial but which perhaps reflects the mindset of the BN side of politics.

DAP goes down to Johor at great risks not so much to demolish MCA but more to offer the Johoreans an alternative choice to represent them in parliament. Lim KS and colleagues reckon it’s time to make such an offer, and they would be political remissive if they fail to do so. That’s political responsibility and obligations of the highest order. And should MCA be so demolished in that process, well, that’s politics, isn’t it?

Thus, Pak Kadir’s statement that Lim KS will be playing second fiddle to PAS’s Salahuddin Ayub is irrelevant because the DAP only wants to represent Johoreans in politics, and is politically mature not to expect nor seek the menteri besar’s appointment. I regret I am unable to even credit Pak Kadir with a ‘good try’ for his naughty shot.

Anyway, let us conclude by remembering that an earlier Gerakan Party, then under different and superior management, did precisely that to the MCA in Penang in 1969 when it won by a landslide and swept Wong Pow Nee’s party out.

Today, the difference between Gerakan and DAP is that the former has forgotten George Santayana’s advice, ‘those cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’, thus suffering in 2008 the very same fate it delivered to the MCA in 1969.