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LETTER | DAP should do away with elitism

LETTER | Lately, there have been polemics in the media on whether the DAP is an extreme or moderate party, or multi-ethnic or a chauvinist Chinese party.

The DAP leaders have gone to a great length to defend their multi-ethnic approach and this comes in the context of the upcoming central committee election. There seems to be a conflict within the party of whether to work with parties like Umno and where to draw the line. Pragmatism and principles seem to collide.

While the issue of image is vital for electoral purpose, DAP leaders should be more in-depth and address issues such as elitism within the party where a coterie of educated elites seems to hold sway over the party. 

These elites believe that fighting corruption, meritocracy that comes from good governance alone would propel Malaysia towards a first-class nation. What it means of good governance from a broader perspective seems to be vague.

There is a lack of concern for workers’ rights and empowerment, domestic economic inequality, environmental grassroots movement, community and neighbourhood issues and global economic injustice. Western imperialism and China expansionism are no concern of the DAP. The party seems to have lost much of its socialist appeal.

The right question would be what is its policy on workers’ rights? Are there a broad base grassroots leadership in the party? How does it address sustainable development issues such as the link between biodiversity and climate change when its leaders are involved in the Penang south reclamation project? What about the livelihood of coastal communities that are part of an ecosystem?

These are the issues that should predominate a political party like DAP and not merely a dualistic argument of whether it is a multi-ethnic or chauvinist party.

It’s time that DAP leaders built a broader vision of a just and egalitarian society and do away with its elitist politics of highlighting only certain aspects of governance if it intends to attract more young grass root leaders to the party. A broad egalitarian vision would put to rest the polemics of whether the DAP is a multi-ethnic or a chauvinist party.

RONALD BENJAMIN is secretary of the Association for Community and Dialogue.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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