PETALING JAYA: Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming's decision not to offer himself as a candidate in the coming 15th general election is seen as a shift in his party - DAP's direction before polls, say political analysts.
Universiti Sains Malaysia political science expert Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said that Ong's decision may be due to the backlash he received last year from certain party leaders and grassroots.
"He (Ong) and Damansara MP Tony Pua were seen as supportive of former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was seeking support from the Opposition last year prior to the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Perikatan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan.
"They were widely criticised within the party and this may have resulted in both Ong and Pua losing in the recent party polls.
"It will not be a surprise if Pua also follows suit to not stand for DAP in the coming general election," he said when contacted.
He added that Ong's decision may have also stemmed from differences in opinion on the direction DAP had taken on the MOU.
He said that Ong was likely taking a "sabbatical" from politics and would make a comeback in a few years' time as Rafizi Ramli had done in PKR.
On Monday (May 9), Ong, a two-term MP, announced that he was taking a break from politics and would not offer himself as a candidate in the coming general election.
He cited several reasons for his decision including the loss in the recent party polls.
Both Ong and Pua failed to defend their seats in the DAP central committee in March this year.
Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, also viewed Ong's decision to opt-out of the coming polls due to rumblings within the party.
"The previous senior party leadership was overzealous in their attempts to woo a certain voter cohort, to the extent their ardent supporters felt that their legitimate expectation of equal rights for all Malaysians was summarily overlooked.
"Hence, the revolt caused Ong and some others their committee seats," he said.
Oh said that the new DAP leadership was more mindful of this and would attempt to appease the hardliner supporters.
"The party leadership is more tactful in trying to appeal to its traditional support base, including not appearing to be going overboard in wooing support.
"And that new direction is perhaps not quite agreeable to somebody like Ong," he added.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said that Ong's support of the "big tent" approach in cooperating with Putrajaya resulted in disgruntlement among the party grassroots.
"It seemed as though his support acknowledged the legitimacy of the administration which was labelled by Pakatan as a backdoor government and undemocratic.
"This gave rise to a perception that DAP and Pakatan were too weak and not stern enough, where they were forced to sign an MOU with their political enemy," added Awang.
Awang also noted that the grassroots was sending a clear signal to the DAP leadership that the sentiments of its members must be considered before any decisions are made by the party.
Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR), said Ong's break will be good for DAP, and it is reflective of his defeat in being elected into the CEC.
"I think Ong read the writings on the wall and that's why he is taking a break to re-strategise," added Azmi.
Azmi also said Ong's move showed that he took responsibility for the backlash faced by the party in the defeats in the Melaka, Johor and Sarawak state elections last year.
DAP failed to retain four state seats during the Melaka and Johor state elections respectively while losing 24 out of 26 state seats contested in the Sarawak state polls.