REGINA LEE: Crossovers causing anxiety
By Regina Lee 2008/04/30
NST: DAP, PKR and Pas have agreed on many issues, including forming Pakatan Rakyat, but political crossovers are still very much a bone of contention among them. While PKR big guns have been boasting of a hijrah or exodus of elected representatives from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan, DAP has been less receptive about the entire notion.
DAP chairman Karpal Singh has gone on record as saying that he was dead set against it, even asserting that he would break ranks with the opposition coalition and side with BN a motion for an anti-hopping law.
DAP has traditionally been against what it calls "political kangaroos". Back in 1978, party adviser Lim Kit Siang delivered a stirring speech when moving a motion to introduce a private member's Bill for the prevention of defection.But this is no surprise considering that this party had been battered by office bearers who quit the DAP for either MCA or Gerakan over the years.
Yap Pian Hon (now Datuk) was among the most prominent DAP stalwarts who crossed to the MCA. In 1969, he won a seat in Parliament on a DAP ticket, but moved to the MCA five years later and he retained the seat continuously until the last election when he was dropped -- an extremely long wait for DAP to see "justice". It was particularly painful for DAP to bear, since Yap quickly rose up the MCA ranks to become arguably one of the most popular chiefs of the Youth wing for championing the communal cause and moved on to the vice presidency.
Another former stalwart, the late Datuk Richard Ho, defected in 1972 and had a meteoric rise in MCA rising to become deputy president and a federal minister a few short years later.From then on, various DAP leaders have deserted the party throughout the decades.The more recent high profile crossovers included that of Lee Yuen Fong (more popularly known as Tiger Lee), and state vice-chairman Lim Fui Ming last year which triggered a media war between himself and DAP leaders.
But with PKR's de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim buoyant about having at least 30 Barisan MPs in the bag ready to cross over, most likely to PKR, to form the federal government, will DAP be squeezed into a minor role?
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng believes so and that DAP's main concern is of being marginalised if PKR does end up being the giant in the tripartite grouping."Their fear is that they may turn into the next Gerakan, a party which had no clout within BN, with governing power only in Penang," he said.
With Anwar setting his sights on Bumiputera MPs in Sabah and Sarawak including current Umno leaders, Khoo said it may decrease DAP's ability to reach out to the non-Chinese."In that worst-case scenario, with PKR becoming another Umno, exerting its power and dominance over other parties, DAP could possibly leave the coalition and strike out on its own as an opposition," said Khoo.
While DAP leaders have not gone to the extent of voicing this possibility, the party seems to be in a split between idealism and politics.Karpal did not mince his words when he said he would be sticking to his guns on the issue, even if Pakatan Rakyat did form the federal government.
"In fact, I do not want any part in this Pakatan Rakyat Government this way."Parties who form Government through crossovers will be looked upon negatively. The party would be full of traitors." This view is also shared by several other young party leaders, perhaps being idealists who don't want the DAP to be "corrupted" by party-hoppers who want to bet on a winning horse.
However, party supremo Lim Kit Siang has been curiously coy over the issue.When contacted, he refused to comment, and asked that the views of other party leaders be sought instead.Is the DAP head honcho, the anti-hopping firebrand that he was 30 years ago, finally having a change of heart?A well-versed party insider, who declined to be named, said he just might sing a different tune, what with the possibility of the DAP having a part in forming the Government within its grasp.