THE easiest way for politicians to get away from bearing any responsibility from a mess they create is by crying out the overly-used excuse of “conspiracy” which, by now, is a staple in the Malaysian political scene.
The latest, of course, is the current DAP leadership calling the decision by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) ordering them to conduct fresh elections as a conspiracy concocted by the Home Ministry, instead of admitting and correcting their administrative shortcomings.
The storyboard being displayed here is that this is part of a strategic move by Barisan Nasional to weaken the current DAP leadership by forcing the RoS to act on a key opposition party.
I admit that it does sound enticing, as one could relate this to a move made by Frank Underwood in an episode of House Of Cards. There is, however, one key problem here and that is, DAP isn’t “exclusive” in crying out the Barisan conspiracy line by now; “Barisan (Barisan Nasional) and the PM got involved in putting pressure on the MIC to reject the results of our validated 2013 election. They are also the reason for the party to side with the detractors...”
This quote was taken on June 20, 2015, directly from Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, then MIC president, a member of the Cabinet and senior member in the Barisan Supreme Council.
The thing is, DAP isn’t that special.
A couple of years back, RoS also ordered MIC, a founding member of the Barisan coalition, to hold fresh elections after receiving complaints about discrepancies by its own members during their 2013 party elections.
If anyone wants to argue that this was a grand conspiracy by Barisan to topple the then incumbent MIC president (as he ousted himself technically later on), one has to reject that notion on the logical basis of the original RoS order which ordered MIC to hold fresh elections for their CWC (central working committee) and the vice presidents’ posts only, which means that the president’s post remains secured.
In fact, even the favourite straw man and grand conspirator of everything in this country, Umno, also had to face something far greater than re-elections as the party was deregistered in 1988 by the courts in reference to the Societies Act of 1966, the very same act that was referred to in asking DAP to hold fresh elections now.
I remember vividly how my late father, Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, who was the first secretary-general of the newly formed Umno Baru, had the gargantuan task of rebuilding a fractured Umno from the ground up to face the 1990 general election. Even under such circumstances, he delivered 127 seats out of 180 in the Dewan Rakyat, followed by the largest electoral victory for Barisan under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s premiership in the 1995 general election.
From timing to the question of coincidences, various excuses will pop up to prevent the public from focusing on the crux of the problem, which in this case was what started this whole thing.
It began with complaints made by DAP members who pointed out several issues in the December 2012 party elections, including irregularities in voting tabulations. One of the key disputes was the result involving Zairil Khir Johari who was contesting for the 20 slots available in the central executive committee. Results announced after the polls ranked Zairil on the 36th spot, thus disqualifying him from the CEC.
Then, in a rather peculiar manner, this result was retracted and replaced with a new tabulation which bumped Zairil’s position 16 spots above, ranking him in 20th place and making him the sole Malay leader contesting the last seat in the CEC. A technical glitch in Microsoft Excel was blamed for this highly peculiar error.
This was, of course, disputed and a special congress was called in September the following year. However, this special congress created another dispute with regard to the list of delegates allowed to vote in it, of which, logically speaking, it should have been based upon the list of delegates who were recognised in the Dec 15, 2012, CEC election.
DAP was advised then by RoS to conduct a fresh poll via a national congress to avoid disputes, yet this was snubbed by the DAP leadership which went ahead with their special congress, ignoring the warnings issued. Furthermore, to avoid being perceived as being unfair, RoS announced that its investigations and findings into the irregularities should be postponed until after GE13 to avoid issues of deregistration for DAP upon entering the 2013 general election.
One could argue that bureaucracy and technicalities hamper and restrict DAP in functioning as an effective political party, but the same can be said in the MIC and Umno cases that I have mentioned. I know the reasoning and technical requirements seem petty to some but it is key in ensuring that the democratic rights of every member of a registered society is protected.
Just as how the decision to protect the rights of 11 Umno members led to the deregistration of the party, what is right and correct need not necessarily be deemed popular.
Though some may argue that the current timing isn’t concise to call for a party election, by right the current leadership’s mandate has expired as it is past the three-year mark. They should have had party elections already if it wasn’t for the decision by the CEC to extend their tenure.
For a party that positions itself as the champion of democracy, being told to return to the democratic process to re-affirm your mandate shouldn’t be that controversial.
I would like to reiterate the stand that this verdict by RoS had nothing to do with us in the Home Ministry; it is purely a technical thing and I consider this to be a policy implementation issue.
But I am moved to write about this and explain the facts of the matter as I read statements by certain individuals who seem to purposely conflate this issue with the ministry, thus turning this rather straightforward issue into a mess which seems to have the objective of confusing the public.
I ask that everyone cast aside the political rhetoric and focus on the crux of the problem, which is ensuring that the democratic process of every registered body be protected and upheld.
Let us allow RoS to do their job in accordance with the guidelines stipulated in the Societies Act without fear or favour. Let us not hamper or discount the rights of every ordinary member of any political party in exercising and upholding his democratic rights.
DATUK NUR JAZLAN MOHAMED
Deputy Home Minister