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DAP between a rock and a hard place in 'marriage' with Umno

Publish date: Thu, 01 Dec 2022, 09:45 AM

Analysts say DAP may soon have to consider its next move, even as the dust settles on an apparent partnership with its long-time enemy Umno as part of the government led by Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the wake of the 15th general election. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, they said clashes could be expected between the two parties despite their present truce. 

Political observer Mak Khuin Weng said while Umno's fight with Bersatu was about who could "deliver" to the Malay community, its conflict with DAP was about denying what the other wanted. 

"Already, Umno has made statements rejecting the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC)," he said, referring to the document issued to students who graduate from Chinese independent high schools, which PH had promised to recognise as part of its manifesto for the 2018 election. 

The matter resurfaced just days after PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as prime minister, when Chinese education group Dong Zong began lobbying once more for its recognition as a qualification for entering local institutions of higher education. 

Veteran Umno secretary Mustapha Yaakob had responded to Dong Zong's calls by saying it had been rude in asking for UEC recognition. 

Umno, a conservative nationalist Malay party, has traditionally painted DAP as the arch-enemy of the Malay agenda. The heavily Chinese DAP, for its part, is considered a left-wing party which touts itself as a champion of equality for all Malaysians.

Political analyst Liew Wui Chern said that DAP, realising its dilemma, was choosing to remain silent. 

"They are not commenting very much – from the hung Parliament situation until the formation of the government, you can see, DAP has been silent," Liew, of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, said. 

Adding that this differed from its previous stance, he said DAP's strategy now was to leave policy and decision making to Anwar and his party, PKR. 

"DAP isn't asking for anything. They're being very quiet and letting Anwar and PKR make the decisions," he said. 

"Umno is now part of the government, so DAP avoids making noise as much as they can." 

Mak, meanwhile, said rifts between Umno and DAP could already be seen in Perak, where Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad had said that DAP would not control the state government.

"DAP has kept quiet so far, but the more they keep quiet, the more they become MCA," he said.

MCA, a long-time component of BN, was rejected by Chinese voters at the 2013 general election in what is often described as the "Chinese tsunami". 

It won only two seats at the recent polls, dashing any hope of a comeback after gaining several seats in the Melaka and Johor state elections.

At any rate, Mak said, having chosen to lie in the same bed, DAP would have to sort out its relationship with Umno.

"I don't see a happy marriage here," he added. "All the arguments coming out from Umno just a few days after the wedding shows that there is no honeymoon either. 

"All I can say to them is, good luck." 

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