Of the DAP and the Royal House of Negeri Sembilan

It made for headline news when the former Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Action party (DAP), Tunku Abdul Aziz, revealed that one Anthony Loke Siew Fok of the DAP extended an invitation to one of the princes of Negeri Sembilan, Tunku Zain al-‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, to stand for election in any one of the state seats of HH Tunku Zain al-‘Abidin’s choice during the next state elections.

Tunku Aziz, former DAP Vice Chairman.

Tunku Aziz, former DAP Vice Chairman.

(By tradition, state elections are held concurrently with parliamentary elections. In the current scenario, the parliamentary mandate expires in April 2013 and it therefore stands to reason that the next state and federal general elections will be held by April 2013, at the latest, except for the state of Sarawak whose state elections won’t be due for a few more years yet.)

The invitation from the socialist-leaning party, if it was not socialist to start with, to Tunku Zain al-‘Abidin went even further to include the offer to be the next Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Negeri Sembilan, should the DAP and by extension, the Pakatan Rakyat wins a majority in Negeri Sembilan State Assembly at the next general elections.

In the course of ordinary everyday politics, such an offer is considered a big enough deal to register some sort of reading on the political Richter scale. In addition, the irony AND the timing of the invitation are not lost on most observers, taking into account the parties and the personalities involved namely Anthony Loke Siew Fok, HH Tunku Zain al-‘Abidin, and the DAP itself, what more in the current political climate.

Described as DAP's Chief Strategist

Anthony Loke Siew Fok, described by Tunku Aziz as DAP’s Chief Strategist. made an offer the Prince reportedly turned down.

First, the DAP. The DAP is a member of an alliance cobbled together in the aftermath of the 2008 12th General Elections (PRU12), called Pakatan Rakyat (PR). Its members are currently in the opposition side of the Dewan Rakyat but together with its other bedfellows, PKR and PAS, harbour grand ambitions to rule from Putrajaya to an extent, some might say as to having wet dreams about it.

But despite claims to being a multi racial party, it is essentially a Chinese-centric party, fighting for causes which are basically Chinese-centric but in the guise of a struggle for a just Malaysian society. Despite vehement denials from DAP leaders to the contrary, one of the ongoing struggles within its membership is to essentially maintain the soul of the DAP as being a Chinese-based political party serving the Chinese community’s interests.

During the last election, the DAP posted a very strong showing having majorities in the states of Perak and Penang. With regards to Penang, the Chief Minister of the state has always been, by agreement amongst component parties of previous Barisan Nasional-led state governments, a Chinese. As to whether this is so because the state constitution chose to be silent on the identity of the Chief Minister or whether it is by tradition, it is open to discussion, speculation and conjecture.

And so when the DAP won big in Penang during the 2008 general elections, the announcement that the next Chief Minister of Penang is a Chinese from DAP did not essentially come as a surprise. That it was not somebody who hailed from Penang was, however.

On the contrary, in the state of Perak where the DAP, PAS and PKR combined held a wafer-thin majority over the BN and with the DAP owning the loyalties of most of the elected assemblymen of PR, the state constitution is clear as to who qualifies to be Chief Minister.

The Strange Bedfellows of PKR, DAP and PAS

The Strange Bedfellows of PKR, DAP and PAS

Hence the reason why, despite strong claims to the Chief Ministership, the post of Chief Minister or Menteri Besar as it is officially called, was finally accorded to PAS. This again came a surprise as PAS only had two representatives to the new state assembly, far less than what DAP had won and also less than the other PR-linked party, PKR.

But what with recent developments allegedly involving DAP’s Perak Chapter, PAS’s Kelantan chapter, a vast track of land and some say, a logging concession as well, as they say in the print business, watch this space.

Anyway, that was 2008. It is now 2013, and the general elections is to be called anytime soon. And for the DAP, it has apparently learnt a thing or two from the last general elections. Hence, with regards to the state of Negeri Sembilan, should the DAP improve on the results of 2008, they could also be in a strong position to form the next state government.

The kick in the head is that DAP could do so, with or without its Pakatan Rakyat partners. But what is power without the ultimate symbol of that power itself, which in the case of the state of Negeri Sembilan is the Chief Ministership of the state.

By the constitution of the state of Negeri Sembilan, the post of Chief Minister or Menteri Besar as it is also officially called, can only be held by a Malay and a Muslim. Going by the spirit of the Federal Constitution where a Malay is a Muslim but a Muslim need not be a Malay, it is therefore imperative for the DAP to have a Malay standing by as Chief-Minister-designate in case they win big in Negeri Sembilan, as is their hope, to have any chance of actually forming the next state government of Negeri Sembilan.

One must congratulate the DAP for coming up with such a strategy, a strategy Machiavellian enough that it may just succeed. If only, that is, Tunku Zain al-‘Abidin had accepted the offer from the DAP, the offer that some has described as a poisoned chalice. As it turned out, it was reported that the young prince declined the offer.

But just who is Tunku Zain Al’Abidin, one might ask? Well, he is the younger brother to one of the four primary princes of Negeri Sembilan, all four of whom are in line and qualify to be elected to be the next Yamtuan Besar or Yang DiPertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, with each having equal claim to the throne.

The Negeri Sembilan Royal Family in traditional attire. Tunku Zain al-'Abidin is on the extreme right.

The Negeri Sembilan Royal Family in traditional attire. From left, Tunku Ali Redhauddin(one of the 4 primary princes of Negeri Sembilan), HRH Tuanku Muhriz (the reigning Yamtuan Besar Negeri Sembilan), HRH Tuanku Aishah Rohani (consort to the Yamtuan Besar) and Tunku Zain al-‘Abidin.

What is more significant is that Tunku Zain Al’Abidin’s father is the current Yamtuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, HRH Tuanku Muhriz. Just imagine the ramifications, both for the present and for the future, had Tunku Zain al-‘Abidin had said yes to the offer especially when it comes to the special bond between Royal and Subject, as it is with the legend of Demang Lebar Daun and Sri Nila Pahlawan.

But then again, contrary to popular belief especially to those who have a slanted view of Malaysian royalty, Malaysian royalty are actually no slouches and they are not dumb either. It is believed that the decision to decline the offer is a decision based on wise counsel, taking into account the well-being and the unity of the community, the Ummah and the country. As should be and as what one would hope for.

As for Anthony Loke Siew Fok, described by Tunku Abdul Aziz, the former Deputy Chairman of the DAP, as being the chief party strategist, he has shown himself to have the makings of a party leader, perhaps the future party leader. He has shown his capabilities in planning and execution as well as having the patience to execute strategies of his design, with the results to show for it.

For example, his candidate of choice for the leadership of the party’s youth wing won in the party elections, ahead of the anointed one, as so identified by the Gods of DAP. That can be both a boon and a bane to Anthony Loke Siew Fok and lest Anthony Loke Siew Fok get too carried away, he might just find himself likened to the Monkey God.

Any more ‘mischief’ and you’ll get banished to the outer boundaries of DAP Nirvana, far from the heavenly gates of the DAP. You crossed the Gods at your own peril, as they say in folklore and for all we know, Anthony Loke Siew Fok may have gotten a nudge here and a nudge there. Gently it may be, but it is still a reminder just who are the heavenly beings and who are not.

But whatever it is, this episode has revealed the extent DAP will go to secure power, royalty or no royalty. This time round, good sense prevailed. Especially in the current political climate, where ‘divide and conquer’ is not any more just a line in the books of political science but is actually acted out in the open as well as behind palace walls.

The question is, will the DAP stop at that? And will the bond between Royal and Subject remain as strong as it ever was, undiminished by the passages of time from the moment the bond between Royal and Subject was sealed? Or will it be put to a test again, in one form or another, at one time or another by forces bearing ill-will? Will all that effort to fail the Malayan Union go to nought making the Malayan Union and all that it stood for, just another footnote in the history books with the passing years?

Only time will tell. Til then, only Allah knows and in Allah we trust.

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