By Tunku Abdul Aziz
Perak DAP leaders must try, if they possibly can, to subordinate their personal ambitions and put the interests of the party above all else. The unseemly internal squabbling over local leadership is already causing considerable damage to the reputation of the DAP which has earned for itself, over the years in the face of great odds, enormous goodwill and credibility. Do you think it fair to put all the hard work and personal sacrifices of thousands of party members at risk to satisfy your craving for personal glory and power?
What has happened to the declaration of high-minded devotion to duty in the public interest? DAP does not exist in isolation. It is a vital part of the nation’s social, political and economic mosaic in a vibrant tangle of races, cultures and religions. We have as a party derived legitimacy from our consistency of purpose for the greatest good of the people of Malaysia. It is the height of lunacy to jeopardise what we have achieved so far and the party’s future prospects by greed-driven, irresponsible, behaviour.
While I concede that leadership infighting is the norm in politics, I suggest it is a luxury we can ill afford as we strive desperately to build a reputation for consistency, reliability and credibility. Our party must by our actions demonstrate that we put great store by principled leadership, and that individually as well as collectively, we are above pettiness of mind, deceit and greed. In other words we are a party motivated solely by considerations of service before self. We are different in the values we embrace; values that we believe can make a positive difference to the process of transformation so vitally important to ensure a sustainable future for ALL Malaysians.
Our most urgent task is to convince our fellow Malaysians that they can trust us to lead this country honestly, competently, and justly, without recourse to corruption. Why should they throw their support behind us if they could not distinguish us from the rest? We are under the minutest public scrutiny, and on the day of reckoning, they will deliver their verdict. That verdict will decide our political relevance.
While we would like to imagine that there would be overwhelming public support to propel us to Putrajaya, it would be a mistake to believe that this would be given on a silver platter. As Lim Kit Siang has said on several occasions, our success in the last general elections could well be a one term wonder unless we delivered on our promises, to the best of our ability. We have to earn public support not by intermittent rhetorical bombardment, but by remaining totally focused on issues that have continued to bedevil the nation with a view to excising them as we would cancerous cells so as to stop them dead in their tracks. We must curb our exuberance because “one sparrow does not a summer make.”
I fully acknowledge the very useful contributions of our younger members who are better educated than those in the past, but they must never fall into the temptation of supposing that because they have had the benefit of an overseas tertiary education, they have all the answers. They don’t. The confidence of youth is refreshing, but our younger members must realise that wisdom comes from wide experience and not from the confined cloisters and musty corridors of university life. No doubt they will learn from life’s harsh realities, sooner rather than later, for the sake of their party.
As a disciplined party, all in leadership positions must not expect special treatment if they go against party values and principles. Many believe that by virtue of their seemingly special relationships with those highly placed individuals in the party’s pecking order, they will receive special treatment of the sort we deplore in other parties. All levels of our leadership must discourage factionalism as this practice is guaranteed to divide loyalty and detract from the party’s main focus of bringing about changes to the governance of the country, through constitutional means. We profess to be a democratic party, and we should live up to our ideals. Anything less puts us in the same moral and ethical league of political parties we despair of and despise.
Doing what is ethically right by our party is no longer the luxury of the virtuous; it has become a political necessity for survival. Are we up to the challenge because otherwise Putrajaya could well turn into a grand mirage?