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MAY 17 — How big is the damage Tunku Abdul Aziz's departure from DAP could do to the party, in particular in winning over the hearts of Malay voters?
Rival parties have painted a picture of Malay leaders having no place in the DAP, and that the party is primarily a Chinese-dominated party. But, does DAP lose its multiracial tag now that it has lost Tunku?
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Tunku Abdul Aziz joined DAP in August 2008, at a time the party needed Malay intellectuals most in a bid to dilute its Chinese dominance image.
Prior to the 2008 general election, DAP could hardly clinch any significant number of Malay votes. However, in the 16 by-elections that followed, DAP managed to leverage on the Pakatan platform and made some important breakthroughs in predominantly Malay constituencies, thanks to the help from PAS and Keadilan.
While Pakatan's Malay support base pales in comparison to BN, the same can never be taken for granted, and DAP has indeed benefited from its alliance with PKR and PAS.
Consequently, the resignation of Tunku Abdul Azis will not shake Pakatan's diehard supporters and its impact may not be as big as some might have thought.
As if that is not enough, DAP has successfully brought renowned Malay politicians to its rank after Tunku Abdul Aziz left, including Zairil Khir Johari, son of former education minister Tan Sri Khir Johari, Malay historian Prof Dr Ariffin Omar and former NUJ president Mohd Ha'ta Wahari. In addition, the Perak DAP also recruited a few prominent young Malay professionals.
All this was unimaginable before the 2008 general election.
After the death of P. Patto, DAP has found a new successor. Hindraf's M. Manoharan was elected Kota Alam Shah state assemblyman while being detained at Kamunting. Ramasamy was appointed Penang's deputy chief minister, while P. Patto's eldest daughter Kasturi was appointed Lim Kit Siang's political secretary.
Most importantly, the history of exodus of talented people during Lim Kit Siang's time should never be repeated.
When conflicts began to surface, they should be addressed immediately in order not to cause bigger damages. Conflicts are inevitable in any organisation, and not all leaders share the same qualities. The key lies in whether there is adequate communication within the party to resolve the conflicts.
From the statements made by Tunku Abdul Aziz over the past two days, we could see that he left the party because of his principles and because he felt hurt. Given his social background, perhaps going into politics has not been the right option for him.