KLANG: The spat between two Selangor DAP top echelon leaders appears to be motivated by the upcoming state party election in June, which is expected to be an intense affair.
Given the turn of events since the last general election that saw the DAP being in and out of federal power in the blink of an eye, the top 15 positions in the state committee are within just about anyone’s reach at the moment.
Party sources said many in the grassroots were disappointed with their leaders still showing support for former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, adding that this will play a part in determining who wins enough cookie points to be among the top 15 elected leaders.
The top contenders include Sungai Pelek assemblyman Ronnie Liu, who made a comeback as an elected representative in 2018 after being out in the cold since 2013, and Damansara MP Tony Pua.
While Liu had done reasonably well in the last state party election, Pua failed to make the cut into the state committee despite being the state chairman at that time.
So, it comes as no surprise to DAP insiders and party observers that the two are currently locked in a dispute over Liu’s speech at a book launch recently.
Cheered on by his proteges, Pua lambasted Liu publicly for allegedly saying that the DAP must maintain its “Chineseness”.
Liu claimed that he was misquoted by some in the party who were “prejudiced” against him and out to belittle him.
“I am not a Chinese chauvinist and never did I once say the DAP’s ‘Chineseness’ must be maintained.
“All I said was that when you are bringing in more Malays (into the party), by all means increase the party’s ‘Malayness’ but do not do it by decreasing the DAP’s ‘Chineseness’, ” he said when contacted.
He said decreasing the so-called Chineseness of the party would be akin to disrespecting the DAP’s traditional support base, which was predominantly Chinese.
He also claimed that those going against him currently were the leaders who still wanted to work with Dr Mahathir and his Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.
“Whenever I criticise Dr Mahathir or any Malay-centric event linked to him, I will be criticised by these party colleagues for speaking up, ” said Liu, a former Selangor executive councillor.
In criticising Liu, Pua emphasised that the DAP must be a party for all Malaysians and not just champion the interests of a single race.
A DAP leader who declined to be named said he felt that Pua and Liu shared the same vision and understood that the future of the country was in a single Malaysian race.
“If you ask me, both are multiracial in their stand, it’s just that they are fighting to woo support as the party election nears, ” added the leader who is an elected representative.
He said although the DAP was a multiracial party, it was built on the foundation of Chinese issues and interests.
Another party leader, when contacted, said those propagating multiracialism in the DAP must ensure that more non-Chinese be given seats in the next general election “and these seats must come from the Chinese quota.”
“Don’t bring in a Malay and then give him a seat which is currently being held by an Indian and then say the party is multiracial, ” he said.
“Pua and Liu’s quarrel on the party’s so-called racial identity could also raise the ire of non-Chinese voters who may perceive the entire fiasco to be a big hypocritical show.”
Klang DAP parliamentary election committee chairman Tee Boon Hock said he felt the misunderstanding was due to some party members being “weak in Mandarin” and unable to fully understand the context of Liu’s speech.
“They must confront Liu within the party and not attack him openly, ” he added.
The Selangor DAP election is expected to be held on June 6, which will be followed by the DAP national congress later that month.