DAP was never really a force to be reckoned with. At best it could win only 20-24 parliament seats and would never be able to govern a state. But in 2008 Mahathir made sure that DAP can win a possible 45 seats and have at least one state under direct rule and a couple more through proxy. And it was all because the then Prime Minister refused to listen to Mahathir’s ‘advise’.
Pakatan Rakyat started life quite impressively in February 2008. What went unnoticed is that this was the fourth opposition coalition after Gagasan Rakyat and Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah (APU) in 1990 and Barisan Alternatif in 1999, all which failed and closed down after a short period of time. And each time it closed down because of DAP.
DAP’s 20 seats it won in the 1990 general election dropped to just nine in 1995, so DAP no longer wanted any ‘partners’, while in the 1999 general election DAP won just ten seats and Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh both lost their seats (also as a member of an opposition coalition). Hence DAP saw that an opposition coalition does not serve the party’s interest and all that happens is that the other partners gain.
In the 2004 general election DAP tried its luck going solo to see whether it can do as well as it did in the 1986 general election when it was not a member of any coalition and when it won a record 24 seats out of just 177 parliament seats (or almost 14% of the seats). It appeared like every time DAP joined up with another opposition party its seats declined. DAP won just 12 seats in 2004, though, not any better than before that.
Tengku Razaleigh and Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat formed APU to defeat Umno on the east coast (picture from http://ditelanzaman.blogspot.nl)
So DAP tried everything. It entered into a coalition with an Umno breakaway party (Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s Semangat 46). It entered into a coalition with another Umno breakaway party (Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR) as well as PAS. It went solo. Nothing seems to work. It was not until 2008 that DAP’s fortunes appeared to have changed when it managed to sweep 85-90% of the Chinese votes and the ‘Chinese Tsunami’ brought the new coalition into power in five states with 82 seats in parliament.
What happened in 2008 that did not happen in 1990, 1995, 1999 and 2004? Why did it work in 2008 but did not work in 1990, 1995, 1999 and 2004? Simple, and if you had been paying attention these last two years you would know the answer to that question. What happened was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In 1990 and 1995 it was a Tengku Razaleigh-led opposition. In 1999 and 2004 it was an Anwar Ibrahim-led opposition (with DAP going solo in 2004). In 2008 it was a Mahathir-led opposition, although he was merely the de facto opposition leader playing a background role.
Basically, in 2008 the Malay heartland ground did not move that much. The move was in the west coast states of Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor. These are more or less the ‘money’ states. This is where 70% of Malaysia’s economic power lies. This is where the Chinese hold sway.
Mahathir launched his campaign to oust the Prime Minister by defeating Umno in the general election back in June 2006
So Mahathir worked on these four states. He got Matthias Chang and Ling Liong Sik to hold meetings with the Chinese educationists, guilds and trade associations to ask the Chinese to support the opposition. Even MCA life members swung and voted opposition. They were told that a vote for PAS is a vote for DAP so do not worry about voting PAS because Pakatan Rakyat is a DAP-led opposition coalition. So the Chinese voters, even those who were in parties within Barisan Nasional, voted opposition.
And that was what happened in 2008 that could not happen in the four general elections before that. It had one very important factor and that factor was Mahathir. Mahathir held press conferences all over Malaysia and openly told Malaysians to vote opposition to teach Umno a lesson. Umno must lose the election and the DAP-led opposition must be allowed to rule so that Umno can be punished. Mahathir even resigned from Umno to show he is serious about wanting Umno to be defeated in the general election.
Liong Sik and Matthias got the MCA Chinese to vote DAP in 2008 so that the west coast can be given to the opposition and the Prime Minister can be ousted
A vote for PAS is a vote for DAP, Malaysians were told. On the other hand, a vote for MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, and so on, is a vote for Umno. So vote for any party within the opposition coalition, it does not matter which, because DAP would benefit. And do not vote for any party within Barisan Nasional or else Umno would benefit.
Basically, the contest is between an Umno-led coalition and a DAP-led coalition. Any benefit for Barisan Nasional is actually a benefit to Umno whereas any benefit for Pakatan is a benefit to DAP. The war-cry ‘ABU’ (Anything But Umno or Asalkan Bukan Umno) does not mean just Umno. It means everyone in Barisan Nasional. So, to reject Umno you must reject the entire Barisan Nasional.
It was actually very brilliant and Zainuddin Maidin a.k.a. Zam was sleeping. He did not realise that since the 2004 general election disaster the opposition had gone to the internet to try to win the hearts and minds of the voters, as the British would say. And the target was the west coast states of West Malaysia (which was why Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor fell). Furthermore, Zam did not realise that Mahathir was going to use the Chinese voters to create this tsunami, which Mahathir called ‘The Chinese Tsunami’.
Was Zam just plain stupid or was he Mahathir’s Trojan horse whose job was to mislead the Prime Minister?
Some, however, suspect that Zam knew all this. He was Mahathir’s man and they suspect he was part of the game. Even mere months before the March 2008 general election Zam told Umno that the internet had no affect and the voters are not being influenced or swayed by the internet. He should already have known in November 2007, when he said that, that the voters had already been swayed. And this is why the suspicion is Zam did know but he was part of Mahathir’s team to hurt Umno from the inside.
And Zam was not the only internal saboteur or Trojan horse. Mahathir even had the Special Branch and many others working for him to undermine Umno in the 2008 general election. In fact, Mahathir also used the Special Branch to mislead Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and after that to pressure the Prime Minister to take responsibility for the 2008 election disaster and resign. And that was what Abdullah did 13 months later.
Of course, in 2015 Mahathir’s links to the Special Branch was finally revealed (which Abdullah did not believe all this while) when Hamid Bador, the number two in the Special Branch, announced that the Special Branch is loyal to Mahathir and not to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, or Abdullah Badawi before that.
Hamid held a press conference to announce that the Special Branch supports Mahathir in the bid to oust the Prime Minister
Can you imagine the head or the number two of the CIA calling for a press conference and announcing that the CIA is loyal to Hillary Clinton and not to President Donald Trump and that they will do everything and anything to sabotage Trump and ensure that he is ousted from office? Well, in 2015 that was what happened in Malaysia. And this was the same ‘Malaysian CIA’ that helped oust Abdullah and then tried to oust Najib.
Yes, so Mahathir made DAP into what it is today, and all because he wanted to oust Abdullah from office and needed to hurt Umno to do that. And in the next episode we shall talk about how Anwar made PAS into what it is today, and all because he knew that he had lost Pakatan Rakyat to DAP.
Raja Petra Kamarudin