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Kudos to veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang for going public with his warning that the unity government could “self-destruct” if it pursues policies that contradict its core values and principles. This comes after a similar warning from Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim that it would be a “disaster” for the unity government if Najib is pardoned and the charges against Zahid are dropped. 

It’s about time that the DAP took a stand on the dangerous currents that have been quietly eroding public support for the unity government and prime minister Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership.

For years the DAP fought a long and often lonely battle for justice, for good governance, for a Malaysia that is secular, inclusive, democratic and premised on the rule of law. They were slandered, vilified and demonised. Their leaders suffered incarceration, harassment and persecution, but they stood strong and held to their principles. And Malaysians loved them for it.

Since joining the unity government, however, the DAP – the second largest party in parliament – has kept its head down and it mouth shut on one important issue after another. They’ve even had nothing to say about RU355 that Religious Affairs Minister Mohd Na’im Mokhtar said he plans to reintroduce in parliament. 

And just look at how they’ve buried their heads in the sand with regard to UMNO’s assault on the integrity of the judiciary.  Just last week, 14 past presidents of the bar council issued a joint statement expressing grave concern over the intimidation of the judiciary and the behaviour of the MACC. They also noted that it is unusual that a minister has seen fit to respond and provide information to a litigant in respect of the MACC’s letter to the chief justice. It “reeks of interference”, they said. 

DAP leaders have plenty to say about the South China Sea and of the dangers of big power rivalry. They know how to scold Mahathir, criticise Muhyiddin and take Hadi Awang to task for their abuse of power and racism. But when it comes to the unethical and reckless behaviour of UMNO, they are as quiet as a church mouse. 

Even on the issue of a possible pardon for Najib, all they can say is that it is an UMNO matter and that they have confidence in the system. No wonder UMNO leaders brag about finally taming the DAP.

Referring to the vile slander that PAS heaped upon him, Lim wrote recently that “politics has fallen to a new low”. For sure, there ought to be no place in politics for such egregious slander but I suggest that what is really pushing politics to a new low is the moral cowardice of most of our politicians in refusing to defend our democracy and the integrity of our judiciary. 

They may think that they are acting for the greater good, that they can somehow forestall the dangerous little green men waiting in the wings by ignoring UMNO’s reckless and wanton manipulation of our justice system but they are only fooling themselves. Compromising on important principles doesn’t keep the little green men at bay; it makes their victory inevitable.

By all means, work with UMNO for the sake of political stability but for goodness’ sake draw the line when it comes to the judiciary and other core values. 

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 12th April 2023]