IPOH, Nov 1 — DAP central executive committee member Howard Lee Chuan How denied that the party was afraid of early polls for fear of losing, as claimed by rival Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders.
Lee said that DAP was accustomed to and well prepared for early polls ever since the democratically elected government of 2018 was overthrown due to party hopping.
He added that the party was ready for elections even as early as 2020 when the “Sheraton Move” took place, as he said the people should have been given the right to decide the government again.
“In the Westminster system, any party — no matter from the government or Opposition — will be ready at any given time because the ruling party, especially the prime minister, has the discretion to dissolve the government. You don’t have the privilege of fixed terms, except for roughly knowing when the electoral cycle ends.
“For me, I think being in Opposition is just basically another factor that contributes towards a party having always to be ready for elections,” he told Malay Mail in an interview at his constituency’s service centre here.
The “Sheraton Move” refers to the fall of Pakatan Harapan (PH) after 22 months in government, following the defection of some of its MP to other parties.
Lee explained that the Opposition did not want an early poll due to the likelihood of severe floods in several states in the coming months.
“The government could not do worse than they are doing now. The situation is dire. You are going into potentially the worst floods that the country has ever seen. This does not come from us, but from weather experts based on what happened in the last 12 months around the world due to climate change.
“You have seen what happened at the end of last year in Malaysia itself. So is it right to have an election? It may be politically right, but is it right to go for an election when a large base of communities will not be able to come out to vote? Of course, it is not,” said the Pasir Pinji assemblyman.
Lee said that he could easily retort that BN wants an early election during floods as the coalition is afraid of losing when there is a large voter turnout.
Malay community and royal institution
Lee said that the accusation “DAP is not for Malays” is merely a tactical move by Umno-BN to use the race and religion card when it feels it is on the losing end of the stick.
Despite the allegation, Lee added that Malay support has been growing for the party.
“We have increasing support from the Malay community for the party, increasing support from Malays for our campaigns and an increasing number of Malay members in the party.
“For example, in Parit, we had 300 Malays joining the party as members to form a new branch there. I think we are seeing the fruits of our labour,” he said.
He pointed out that Umno is the one that has been working with a party with no respect for the royal institution.
“Umno worked with PAS to form the previous government, and even after Parliament dissolved, the Umno deputy president and PAS president and secretary-general held a meeting together.
“PAS is the party that refused to meet the Perak Sultan when Perak went through a constitutional crisis. But now, Umno is throwing the allegation that DAP is anti-royalty?” said Lee.
He also said that DAP did not have a single court case or conviction nor had any of its leaders been convicted in a court of law or been involved in incidents that provoked royal anger.
Lee said that caretaker mentri besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohammad’s decision to seek the dissolution of the Perak legislative assembly before tabling and passing the anti-hopping enactment was nothing more than an electoral tactic.
“We know Umno is also a victim of party hopping. We saw its reps defecting to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in the previous election. The question is why would they want to withhold legislation of the anti-hopping law in the state?
“I personally think that it is nothing more than an electoral tactic. I would say it is a suppression of voters’ democratic rights. I am sure everyone knows that Umno thrives during a low voter turnout.
“Umno is also a party known for its voting machinery as its fixed deposit, which is by always knowing that in a constituency of 10,000 voters, it will have 5,001 vote non-negotiable, while not even bothering to serve the balance of voters.
“We know voter sentiment and emotions can be easily manipulated. Over the last 10 years, a lot of PH voters have been turned off by defections that have caused political turmoil,” he said.
Lee admitted that some feel there is no point in voting when there is no anti-hopping law in place.
“I am fairly certain the intention behind BN and Perak Umno in not tabling the anti-hopping Bill is because they think by not tabling the law, they will turn off PH voters from turning out.
“I do not buy the reason that they don’t have time to table the enactment. These are just lies,” he said.
Why youth vote matters
Lee, who is also DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) chief, pleaded with young voters to put themselves first when deciding who to vote for.
“When they do that, they need to really look at the policies being offered by the political parties. They also need to check out track records.
“Of course, BN has a large track record, PH was only given 22 months and it is not the full mandate. I hope people will not only look at this, but also our track record in Selangor and Penang for the last 10 years,” he said.
Lee added that young voters should not be influenced by their parents or social media.
“Anyone who throws money at social media will get the eyeballs, but not anyone or anything that is good has the money to get the attention. The young ones should think critically for their future,” he said.
Lee also said that youth should not allow themselves to be manipulated by Umno and other parties that harp on about political stability is needed for economic and social stability.
“They should look at countries such as Sweden, Norway and Germany that are the richest, happiest, and most egalitarian countries in the world. They don’t have outright powers held by an outright party.
“Germany has a coalition of three parties coming together to form a political consensus to reach a national consensus, while Sweden, which has the best welfare system, has had to compromise with several parties. They have also had a minority government for many terms now.
“How can they have a successful economy and stable society when they have absolutely no political stability? Politicians have to put the people’s interests first, and not the party. So do not be conned or misled by those who tell you that only political stability can bring economic and social stability,” he said.