Democratic Action Party
DAP is one of the three main opposition parties in Malaysia, along with the PKR and PAS, that are seen as electable alternatives to the Barisan Nasional coalition of parties. It is one of the component parties of Pakatan Rakyat (or known as People's Alliance).
The party's vision is to establish a peaceful and prosperous social democracy that can unite its disparate races and diverse religions and cultures based on a Malaysian Malaysia concept of forging a Malaysian race grounded on universal moral values, offering equal access and opportunity, upholding democratic governance and the rule of law, creating wealth and distributing it equitably, and fighting corruption.
Though most of the seats it contests consists of majority Chinese Malaysians, the DAP receives support from the Malaysian Indians and a significantly large number of liberal Malays. The party's strongholds are the states of Penang, Perak, Selangor, Johor, and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. In the 2013 Malaysian General election, DAP swept nearly all the federal seats it contested throughout Malaysia, the seat they lost being the seats of Labis, Tanjong Piai, Sepanggar, Putatan, Alor Gajah, Mas Gading, Serian, Mukah, Kapit, Bintulu, Lawas, and Cameron Highlands.
Following the recent 2013 general election, and with 38 members of Parliament (MPs), the Democratic Action Party becomes the second largest political party in Malaysia, a term that is usually used to describe its main political rival, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).
- 1 History
- 2 Party symbol and its meaning
- 3 Ubah mascot
- 4 Party members and leadership structure
- 5 List of DAP leaders
- 6 Others
- 7 General election results
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes and references
- 10 External links
Most of the Malaysian PAP members decided to remain with the original party, but those that decided to continue the party, including future President of Singapore Devan Nair, stayed in Malaysia to form the DAP in October 1965. The party formally registered itself as a democratic socialist party on March 18, 1966. In the August of that year, the official party organ, The Rocket, was first published. At the first DAP National Congress held in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur on July 29, 1967, the DAP declared itself to be "irrevocably committed to the ideal of a free, democratic and socialist Malaysia, based on the principles of racial and religious equality, social and economic justice, and founded on the institution of parliamentary democracy".
Devan Nair who was amongst those who founded the DAP (others included Chen Man Hin who won the Seremban constituency as an independent), later returned to Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister of Singapore under the PAP, explained in 1981 that "the Cabinet decided that Singapore-Malaysia relations would always be bedevilled if Devan Nair remained a DAP leader. I persuaded him to come back".
Early electoral successes
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The DAP contested a general election for the first time in 1969. In line with their commitment to equality, the DAP originally campaigned against Bumiputra privileges, such as those afforded to them by Article 153 of the Constitution. They also continued Lee Kuan Yew's campaign for a Malaysian Malaysia, the idea of which was originally conveyed by Lee in Parliament: "Malaysia – to whom does it belong? To Malaysians. But who are Malaysians? I hope I am, Mr Speaker, Sir. But sometimes, sitting in this chamber, I doubt whether I am allowed to be a Malaysian."
The DAP went on to win 13 Parliamentary seats and 31 State Assembly seats, with 11.9% of all valid votes that were cast in the election; the Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) which campaigned on a similar platform also made major gains. The 1969 election marked the biggest gains ever made by an opposition party in Malaysia (before 2008), and came close to seeing the ruling Alliance toppled from power. However, a march made by the DAP along with Gerakan as part of the opposition team led to violence, and resulted in what was euphemistically termed the 13 May Incident. Parliament was suspended for two years, and the executive branch of the government assumed power.
When Parliament reconvened, it passed pieces of legislation such as the Sedition Act that illegalised discussion of repealing certain portions of the Constitution. Most of these concerned Bumiputra privileges, such as Article 153. The DAP and the People's Progressive Party (PPP) were the only parties that voted against the Act, which passed by a vote of 125 to 17.
After the 1969 election, the DAP would never come close to repeating its past successes for the next 38 years. Although the DAP remained a major opposition party, the ruling coalition had clung solidly to its two-thirds parliamentary majority. The DAP, however, continued campaigning on its platform of abolishing the Bumiputra privileges, giving equal rights for all Malaysians regardless of race and establishing a democratic socialist state in Malaysia.
During the Mahathir administration in 1987, several DAP leaders, including Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, were detained by the government without trial during Operation Lalang, under the accusation of being a national security threat. It is widely believed they were arrested for protesting the expansion of the New Economic Policy (NEP).
In 1995 the party ran what has become widely known as the "Robocop" campaign to wrest Penang from the BN. Despite the hype, the campaign was a failure as the party only won one state and three parliamentary seats. The strategy backfired when Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, BN leaders and the media criticised Lim Kit Siang as a "robot" and "soulless" person.
Following the ousting of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in September 1998, DAP co-founded the Barisan Alternatif coalition along with PAS and the newly formed Keadilan. However, the coalition did not work out very well for the DAP, with two of its top leaders, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh losing their Parliamentary seats in the 1999 election; the DAP managed to win only 5% (10 out of 193) of the seats in Parliament. PAS became the leading opposition party in Parliament. It left the coalition in 2001 due to a disagreement with PAS over the issue of an Islamic state.
In the 2004 elections, the DAP managed to capture 12 seats in Parliament, while PAS and Keadilan suffered major setbacks, with PAS losing 20 of the 27 seats it had held after the 1999 elections, and Keadilan lost all seats except one returned after a recount. The eventual outcome saw Lim Kit Siang, who had been elected in his constituency of Ipoh Timur with a majority of 10,000 votes, formally elected as the leader of the opposition in Parliament, a post he had lost to the president of PAS in 1999.
In the 2006 Sarawak State Elections, the Democratic Action Party won 6 of the 12 seats it contested and narrowly lost three other seats with small majorities. Up to then this is the party best showing ever in the history of Sarawak state elections since 1979.
In the 2008 elections, the DAP won 13% (28 out of 222) of the seats in Parliament, with PAS and Keadilan making substantial gains as well with 23 seats and 31 seats respectively. In total, the taking of 82 seats (37%) by the opposition to Barisan Nasional's 140 seats (63%), makes it the best performance in Malaysian history by the opposition, and denies Barisan Nasional the two-thirds majority required to make constitutional changes in the House. DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang expressed surprise at the election results but declares it to be the true power of the voice of the Malaysian people for the leaders of the country to hear them. In addition, DAP, having secured all its contested seats in the state of Penang, formed the Penang state government with its alliance partners Keadilan and PAS, the Chief Minister being DAP's Lim Guan Eng.
As the new Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced to waive all summonses issued by the Penang Municipal Council and Seberang Perai Municipal Council involving hawker licences and parking offences issued before March 2008 and pledged to review the NEP without disregarding Malay rights. This review proposal has been supported by PKR leader Anwar.
Allegations of racism and chauvinism
Despite constant denials by party leaders, DAP has been depicted by political opponents as a party that favors the Malaysian Chinese minority above others. This allegation of racial chauvinism culminated in a two-piece television program broadcast on government-controlled TV channel RTM entitled “Bahaya Cauvinisme”. The program forced then party leader Lim Kit Siang to issue a formal media statement to counter the allegations.
On November 15, 2011, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the Malaysian Minister for Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism, accused DAP's publicity chief, Tony Pua, of racism for making repeated attacks against the Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia, a government initiative to supply cheap retail products to Malaysian consumers. Tony Pua was criticised for singling out Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia, whose suppliers to the store generally come from the Malaysian Bumiputra community, and for not investigating the quality of products supplied by Malaysian-Chinese suppliers or making similar accusations against independent Malaysian-Chinese stores.
Chinese-Malaysian Joceline Tan, columnist for The Star's online news portal, wrote an analysis proclaiming that DAP has had difficulty in getting rid of its chauvinist image, especially since DAP continued to attack Malay dominated institutions like the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and the civil service.
Allegations of racism have forced DAP party leader Lim Guan Eng to issue a formal denial in the Penang High Court.
2012 party election fiasco
At the DAP election in December 2012, Vincent Wu, who was initially declared to have secured the sixth spot with 1,202 votes, dropped to 26th place because he had actually secured only 669. Zairil Khir Johari was elected to the central executive committee (CEC) with 803 votes to secure the 20th spot. The glitch, reportedly because of a vote tabulation error due to the copy-and-paste method in Microsoft Excel, had raised suspicion.
DAP admitted the counting error after discovering the mistake. The DAP election fiasco had caused unease among party members and led to protests to the Registrar of Societies (RoS). Two dissatisfied life members of the DAP then lodged reports with the RoS on the party elections following the revelations.
Following the report the RoS had informed DAP of the dispute by its members and in turn as provided for under Section 3A of the Societies Act 1966 did recognise the office-bearers of the committee formed in the party elections on December 15, 2012, the point of contention.
DAP chairperson Karpal Singh said DAP will contest under the PAS logo for the Peninsula and PKR logo in Sabah and Sarawak in the 13th general election, following the Registrar of Societies’ failure to respond on the withdrawal letter of RoS informing that it does not recognise the party's top leadership lineup. DAP had appealed to the ROS to withdraw its Wednesday's letter to suspend the party's existing central executive committee (CEC) but till this afternoon the department was silent on the matter.
On April 19, 2013, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng informed all its 51 parliament and 103 state candidates to use the rocket symbol first during nomination tomorrow, and show the Election Commission the letter of authorisation signed by secretary-general Lim Guan Eng. If the rocket symbol is rejected, then use the letter of authorisation signed by PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali for the Peninsular of Malaysia and PKR letter of authorisation for Sabah and Sarawak. This comes after the DAP has decided to use PAS and PKR symbols for the coming general election on May 5.
On April 20, 2013, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said DAP can use its iconic rocket symbol for the May 5 general election after getting last-minute confirmation late night at April 19, 2013. He said the DAP headquarters in Kuala Lumpur received a letter by hand from the Registrar of Societies (RoS) at 10 p.m. on April 19, stating that it had no objections to the DAP using the logo, and that the Election Commission (EC) had informed all returning officers to accept nominations from the DAP.
Aftermath General Election 2013 in Malaysia and series of street demonstration, Chen Man Hin, Lifetime DAP Advisor has been investigated by Malaysian Police for allegation in conspiracy to create public disorder when he used the term “Malaysia Spring” in a private e-mail correspondence over a year ago.
On May 22, 2013, Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim, Former Vice Chairman of DAP and founder of Transparency International–Malaysia, said that he would continue to publicise more information about DAP if the action could prevent bloodshed and mayhem, pertaining to the party's penchant for supporting street rallies. He will expose DAP if it poses a threat to national security, peace, and public order.
Historical performance in elections
|Election year||Parliamentary seats won||State seats won|
|Malaysian general election, 1969||13|
|Malaysian general election, 1974||9|
|Malaysian general election, 1978||16|
|Malaysian general election, 1982||9|
|Malaysian general election, 1986||24|
|Malaysian general election, 1990||20|
|Malaysian general election, 1995||9|
|Malaysian general election, 1999||10|
|Malaysian general election, 2004||12|
|Malaysian general election, 2008
* Sarawak state election, 2011
|Malaysian general election, 2013||38||95 (exclude Sarawak's seats)|
Party symbol and its meaning
The symbol or logo of the DAP (see above) is the rocket, which it has used since the 1969 general election. Its components are symbolised as follows:
Ubah bird is the official mascot of the DAP which resembles a hornbill. DAP had adopted this bird as a symbol for change both for its unique characteristics, hardiness and representation of the unity of both East Malaysia and West Malaysia into a Malaysian nation. It was designed by Ooi Leng Hang and was launched during the Sarawak state elections in 2011 and was also used as part of the their political campaigning during the 13th Malaysian general election in 2013. This proved to be a big hit and was well-loved by people of all walks of life. Its merchandise such as plush toys, buttons and car stickers, were selling like hotcakes. The idea of the mascot came from Sarawak DAP Secretary, Chong Chieng Jen, who felt a mascot will boost the spirit of the people. The name "Ubah", which means "change" in Malay, is in line with the party's aspirations in changing the ruling party of the Malaysian federal government. In addition to its original Sarawak Iban costume, "Ubah" now comes in a Malay costume for Hari Raya, Indian costume for Deepavali, Chinese costume for Chinese New Year, Santa Claus costume for Christmas, and a Superman costume that depicts the power of the people.
Besides that, DAP has also unveiled theme songs as part of their political campaigning ahead of the 13th Malaysian general elections such as "Ubah" and "Ubah Rocket Style", which is a parody of the viral YouTube hit "Gangnam Style".
Party members and leadership structure
Notable party members include the parliamentarians listed below. A number of them maintain active blogs containing writings on contemporary political, social and economic issues in Malaysia in general, or on specific issues involving their constituencies or policy area of interest. Videos of DAP members of parliament debating in the Dewan Rakyat are also available.
DAP Members of the 13th Parliament of Malaysia (Dewan Rakyat)
DAP currently has 38 MPs.
DAP members in the Dewan Negara (Senate)
Leadership of the DAP
The leadership of the Democratic Action Party are elected through party delegates in national level. There will only be 20 CEC positions available for grabs while the remaining positions will be appointed by the new Central Executive Committees. The latest leadership structure could be found below.
List of DAP leaders
DAP Life Advisor
- Dr. Chen Man Hin (December 1999 – present)
DAP National Chairman
- Dr. Chen Man Hin (1965-December 1999)
- Lim Kit Siang (December 1999 – 2004)
- Karpal Singh (2004–present)
- C.V. Devan Nair (1965–1968)
- Goh Hock Guan (1968- May 13, 1969)
Fan Yew Teng (acting October 1969- October 1970)
- Lim Kit Siang (October 1969- December 1999)
- Kerk Kim Hock (December 1999- April 2002) (September 2002- May 2004)
Chong Eng (acting April 2002- September 2002)
- Lim Guan Eng (May 2004 – present)
Note: Lim Kit Siang was elected as Secretary-general in October 1969 while he was detained under ISA and Fan Yew Teng acting the DAP sec-gen post.
Chairman of the Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
- Lim Kit Siang (2004–present)
Note: Chairman of the Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission is a newly created position on 2004 when Lim Kit Siang refused to be re-elected as national chairman of DAP.
DAP Parliamentary Leader
- Lim Kit Siang (2008–present)
- Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) as well as the Chairman of the National Service Training Council, was an ex-party member who was previously a four-term MP for Bukit Bintang until 1990.
- Edwin Jack Bosi, Member of the Sabah State Assembly for Kepayan, is the party's sole Kadazandusun representative.
- Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, MP for Raub, is the party's sole Malay member of parliament. Another DAP MP, Zairil Khir Johari is a Malay-Chinese descent.
- Out of 38 members of parliament of the party, ofour are female, the sole Indian being Kasthuri Rani Patto, MP for Batu Kawan. She is also the daughter of former DAP MP P. Patto.
- The party discourages members of its party to actively seek honorary titles - not even party Secretary General Lim Guan Eng who is also Penang Chief Minister has a title. Datuk Teng Chang Khim and Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham are the only members of the party who have received honorary title whist serving as a party representative.
General election results
|Election||Total seats won||Total votes||Share of votes||Outcome of election||Election leader|
|1964||42,130||2.0%||1 seats; Opposition||Lee Kuan Yew (as PAP)|
|1969||286,606||12.1%||11 seats; Opposition||Goh Hock Guan|
|1974||387,845||18.3%||3 seats; Opposition||Lim Kit Siang|
|1978||664,433||19.1%||5 seats; Opposition||Lim Kit Siang|
|1982||815,473||19.6%||7 seats; Opposition||Lim Kit Siang|
|1986||968,009||21.0%||15 seats; Opposition||Lim Kit Siang|
|1990||985,228||17.13%||4 seats; Opposition coalition (Gagasan Rakyat)||Lim Kit Siang|
|1995||712,175||12.0%||11 seats; Opposition coalition (Gagasan Rakyat)||Lim Kit Siang|
|1999||830,870||12.53%||3 seats; Opposition coalition (Barisan Alternatif)||Lim Kit Siang|
|2004||687,340||9.9%||2 seats; Opposition||Lim Kit Siang|
|2008||1,118,025||13.77%||16 seats; Opposition coalition (Pakatan Rakyat)||Lim Kit Siang|
|2013||1,736,601||15.71%||10 seats; Opposition coalition (Pakatan Rakyat)||Lim Kit Siang|
Notes and references
- DAP Website: About Us: The Party. Retrieved 12 Feb. 2008.
- DAP Website. Vision and Mission. From: http://dapmalaysia.org/newenglish/au_vm_ob.htm
- Mesenas, Clement & Lee, Ching Wern (8 Dec. 2005). "Workers' champion, reluctant President"[dead link]. TODAYonline.
- Goh, Cheng Teik (1994). Malaysia: Beyond Communal Politics, p. 51. Pelanduk Publications. ISBN 967-978-475-4.
- "Democratic Action Party Lim Kit Siang 11th General Election Malaysia". Retrieved 7 Nov. 2005.
- Ooi, Jeff (2005). "Perils of the sitting duck"[dead link]. Retrieved 11 November 2005.
- Goh, pp. 19, 39.
- Means, Gordon P. (1991). Malaysian Politics: The Second Generation, pp. 14, 15. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-588988-6.
- Lim, Kit Siang (2005). "Hisham – gonna say sorry for UMNO Youth keris episodes?". Retrieved 11 November 2005.
- "Ex-DAP leader assumes Keadilan post, urges opposition unity". Utusan Malaysia. 15 February 2010.
- Netto, Anil (10 Dec. 1999). "A wake-up call for ho-hum Malaysian politics". Asia Times.
- Kamarudin, Raja Petra (6 June 2005). "The crossroads for PAS: whereto from here?"[dead link]. Malaysia Today.
- "Malaysia Election 2004"[dead link]. (5 Apr. 2004). The Star (Malaysia).
- The Star Online. "MALAYSIA DECIDES 2008 > General Election 2008 Results". Retrieved 9 March 2008.
- The Star Online. "MDAP leaders also surprised". Retrieved 9 March 2008.
- New Strait Times. 2008. Election 2008 Results: Lim Guan Eng is next Penang CM, promises fair & just administration[dead link]. Retrieved 12 Mar. 2008.
- "Media statement by Lim Kit Siang". DAP Malaysia. 2002.
- "Racist DAP agenda in segregating Hindraf lawyer M. Manoharan in next general elections.". Human Rights Party Malaysia. 26 Sept 2011.
- "Racist DAP slaughters Hindraf lawyer M.Manoharan from recontesting Kota Alam Shah". Human Rights Party Malaysia. 25 Sept 2011.
- "DAP: Ismail Sabri’s racism claims over Kedai Rakyat exposes baseless" The Malaysian Insider. 17 November 2011.
- "An uphill battle ahead for DAP". The Star Malaysia. 20 November 2011.
- "Soi Lek: Is racist DAP feeling guilty?". Free Malaysia Today. 19 April 2011.
- "Victory in Sarawak". Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, Blogging to Unblock. 18 April 2011.
- "Guan Eng testifies he is not a racist". The Sun Daily. 4 Oct 2011.
- DAP CEC election error
- "Two DAP members lodge reports with ROS, alleging fraud in party elections". The Star (Malaysia).
- Lee, Regina. "DAP to contest under PKR, PAS banners if RoS does not revoke letter derecognising party’s CEC". The Star (Malaysia).
- Karpal confirms DAP to use PAS, PKR logos
- Use rocket first during nomination, says Guan Eng
- DAP gets to ride the rocket for GE13
- "Political mascots come into play".
- DAP leaders' blogs. Retrieved 12 Feb. 2008.
- DAP Leadership Structure. Retrieved 12 Oct. 2008.
- Lee, R. 2008. "Tussle for Bukit Bintang hots up". The New Strait Times, 1 Feb. Retrieved 9 May 2008.
- James Chin. The Sarawak Chinese Voters and their support for the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2, 1996, pp 387–401
- James Chin. The Malaysian Chinese Dilemma: The Never Ending Policy (NEP), Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, Vol 3, 2009