Within DAP, growing rift over ‘Superman’ Hew’s pro-China comic book

It is understood that a faction of DAP members are currently gathering signatures as part of a petition to support a proclamation condemning the distribution of the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) comics in schools. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
It is understood that a faction of DAP members are currently gathering signatures as part of a petition to support a proclamation condemning the distribution of the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) comics in schools. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 ― A rift appears to be growing within the DAP with some members now wanting to formally condemn former member Hew Kuan Yau’s distribution of a pro-China propaganda comic to local schools.

Malay Mail understands that a faction of DAP members are currently gathering signatures as part of a petition to support a proclamation condemning the distribution of the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) comics in schools.

This comes as a response to 43 DAP grassroot members releasing a statement earlier this week defending Hew.

Using the hashtag #DEMIDAP, a group comprising of DAP MPs, state lawmakers and members at the state, youth and branch levels feel that the comic authored by former DAP activist Hew and published by the Asia Comic Culture Museum is a form of foreign propaganda and is unsuitable to be published in schools.

“We supported diplomatic relationship with China especially in strategic project such as BRI that could benefit the country but rejected all propaganda distribution that supported and glorify foreign powers like China as what is done by that book,” said the statement as seen by Malay Mail.

They also took issue over the treatment of Uighurs that was printed in the comic book.

According to a DAP source, the statement had been making rounds to the party members  since Sunday, a day after the 43 grassroot members released a statement defending Hew.

“This will counter their narrative and gather the members who would want to defend the party,” the DAP source told Malay Mail on the condition of anonymity.

So far more than 50 DAP leaders and grassroot have signed the statement and the top leadership is aware of the matter.

Another DAP source admitted that the comic book issue has split the party into those who support and oppose the comic book.

He said although there are no official directives from the top leadership on the issue, most preferred not to be associated with the controversy.

“Most DAP leaders think it is better if we stay silent and not issue statement to promote Hew and the issue,” the source told Malay Mail.

However the source did not make it clear which of the top leaders supported Hew.

The comic titled Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism was released to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia.

Hew resigned from DAP in 2014 following criticism for his statements and fiery speech but continued to present in the party’s campaign, especially in the Chinese-majority areas.

Hew was appointed the chief executive officer of the Malaysia-China Business Council that is headed by DAP chairman Tan Kok Wai after Pakatan Harapan historic win last year.

The comic book, which is available in Mandarin, Malay and English has a foreword written by DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng and photos of both Hew and deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching were circulated on social media.

The Education Ministry said last week it did not approve the distribution of the comic book in secondary and vernacular schools.

It told state education departments and district education offices to ensure all schools do not accept or distribute this comic book from any supplier.

So far the only high profile DAP leader who spoke out against the comic book is Segambut MP and Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh.

Other leaders have been tight-lipped  over the matter.

Forty-three people who signed the statement defending Hew were DAP Youth secretary Eric Teh, Selangor DAP Youth deputy chief Koo Jeng Teng and Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe.

Other assemblymen who defended Hew included Chow Yu Hui (Tras), Lee Chin Chen (Bilut) dan Leong Yu Man (Triang).

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