After its 22-month stint in the Pakatan Harapan government, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) is back on the opposition bench. The Pakatan Harapan’s reformist and multiracial project appears moribund. With the ongoing political realignment and socioeconomic challenges facing Malaysia, exacerbated by COVID-19, where is the DAP’s place under the Malaysian sun?
The DAP is expected to elect a new Secretary-General at the Central Executive Committee election on 20 June 2021, who will lead the party into the next general election. Since the Sheraton Move in February 2020, DAP’s relationship with its closest coalition partner Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and PKR President Anwar Ibrahim has apparently deteriorated. Meanwhile, DAP leaders have not fully closed the door on cooperation with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) after the next general election.
The DAP is the biggest party in Parliament, holding a solid 42-seat bloc out of the 222 total. Yet, the more the DAP succeeds politically, the more susceptible it has been to its detractors’ allegation that it is a threat to the Malay majority’s interests. It thus has to continue to walk the tightrope between retaining its largely Chinese and urban support base, and cultivating and reassuring the Malay majority.
Speakers at this Webinar will address the following issues and more:
- Disappointment among DAP supporters that it had not made good on its election promises and failed to implement institutional reforms.
- How will the DAP determine which parties it should work with both before and after the general election, taking into account the sentiment of its grassroots?
- How does the party engage key segments of the electorate, including the youth, women, and East Malaysians?
- What are the new challenges for the new generation of DAP leaders and how do their views and responses differ from the earlier generation?
- What are the key priorities of Malaysians post-Covid, and what therefore are DAP’s key policy objectives?
About the Panellists
Teo Nie Ching is a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and served as Deputy Minister of Education in the Pakatan Harapan government from July 2018 to February 2020. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kulai in the state of Johor since 2013; prior to that, she was the MP for Serdang in Selangor (2008 to 2013). She has served in the DAP Central Executive Committee since 2008, and holds the position of International Secretary.
Zairil Khir Johari is a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and State Assemblyman for Tanjong Bunga In Penang following the 2018 state election. He is the Penang State Executive Councillor for Infrastructure and Transport. He was previously the MP for Bukit Bendera, Penang (2013-2018), during which he was also the DAP Parliamentary Spokesperson for Education, Science, and Technology. He has served in the DAP Central Executive Committee since 2012, holding the position of Assistant National Publicity Secretary. He was most recently elected Vice Chairman of the State Committee in the 2021 Penang DAP party elections.
Meredith Weiss is Professor and Chair of Political Science at the State University of New York at Albany. She has published widely on social mobilisation and civil society, electoral politics and parties, and subnational governance in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Malaysia and Singapore. Her current projects include research on local government and public-goods delivery, democratic representation and political elites, youth politics in Southeast Asia, and a monograph on Malaysian socio-political development.