He names a few party leaders who are ‘very extreme’.
DAP used to be extreme in their Chinese-centric demands but now not all of them are like that, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Speaking to Malaysiakini in an interview, the former prime minister stressed that some DAP members are still “very extreme” and that they are not willing to compromise themselves for others.
“As usual, in political parties, there are those who are extreme and there are the moderate ones.
“Among the DAP members, there are people like Ramasamy, Ronnie Liu, and such. These people are very extreme. They are not willing to accommodate at all,” Mahathir told Malaysiakini on Wednesday.
He was referring to Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy and DAP central committee member Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew.
Mahathir also brought up the case of a DAP member who said the party should be nice to the Malays so they can use them for their benefit, after which they can set them aside.
“This was said in a speech spoken in Chinese. We do not understand Chinese but there are those who do, so they told us about this. So, (like I said), extreme,” he said.
The speech Mahathir referred to is believed to be made by former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau, who in 2016 urged Chinese voters in Sarawak to back a Malay DAP candidate so he can “screw the Malays”.
Mahathir’s office called for the interview to clarify his recent remarks, where the Pejuang pro-tem chairperson described DAP as “sometimes extreme”.
“I have worked with DAP… the DAP sometimes is extreme but we can work with them,” Mahathir had said when answering a reporter’s query on whether Umno can work together with DAP.
The remarks irked DAP leaders including its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who said Mahathir’s characterisation of the DAP was “wrong, baseless and misguided”.
‘DAP has changed’
Mahathir believed that although DAP was “more open” now as there are visible Malay members, there are party figures who still made statements hurtful to the Malays, and the Malay voices in the DAP ranks are not strong .
These include when the party went against policies that were introduced by the government to help the Malays, such as the New Economic Policy (NEP) and the provision of special privileges for the Malays and bumiputera.
“We wanted to bridge the gap between communities in this country. Even today we can see there is a race that is rich and there is the poor one.
“We saw that many Malays were poor. There were poor Chinese people too, but the Malays had no ability to get out of their situation. So we introduced NEP but they (DAP) criticised the NEP.
“This was like they want the Malays to keep being poor, as they want (the government) to use merits to give assistance. If we were to follow their demand, it would have made Malay students unable to secure scholarships,” he said.
However, he said the party had since changed to be more moderate and inclusive, and are more open to the Malays.
According to Mahathir, DAP leaders such as Lim Kit Siang and Guan Eng have also changed their attitude.
“They are seen to have changed. They used to be extreme. During those days when I was the prime minister (in the first tenure), they were quite extreme.
“But now DAP has realised that without the support from the Malays, they cannot win. So they opened DAP to the Malays, while for the Indians, they have already been accepted earlier.
“So there are Malays in DAP, and because of this, we see DAP has become more moderate,” he said.
As an example of this moderation, Mahathir spoke about how he cooperated with DAP and PKR in the 14th general election to emerge victorious with support from the Malays.
By : HARIZ MOHD – MALAYSIAKINI