DAP should celebrate diversity, Anthony Loke says amid unhealthy debate on ‘Chinese vs English chauvinist’ labels

Anthony Loke expressed confidence that all party members would still rally behind DAP after the upcoming party elections. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Anthony Loke expressed confidence that all party members would still rally behind DAP after the upcoming party elections. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — DAP members should celebrate their diversity instead of engaging in an unhealthy debate and attempt to label fellow party members as Chinese chauvinist or English chauvinist, the party’s national organising secretary Anthony Loke has said.

In an interview with news portal Malaysiakini and KiniTV last week, Loke expressed confidence that all party members would still rally behind DAP after the upcoming party elections.

This was amid a situation — ahead of DAP’s June internal elections — where the labels of “Hua Sha” (Chinese chauvinist) and “Ying Sha” (English chauvinist) have emerged within DAP, along with labels of “elite” and “grassroots” factions, Malaysiakini reported.

In the interview, Loke indicated the debate was not new as the party has had both Chinese-educated and English-educated leaders from the start, while also expressing confidence that all party members would still rally behind DAP after the party elections.

“The debate on the direction of DAP is small and concerns only party members. What is more important is the direction of the country, what type of country and society you want to live in. DAP is just one of the factors contributing to that and it must be a positive factor.

“The diversity in DAP is something we must celebrate instead of seeing it as a weakness. While we are pluralistic in our thinking, we have never said that we must give up our cultural roots,” he was quoted saying.

Loke suggested that it would be unfair to attempt to categorise DAP members, noting that he himself could not be considered a “Hua Sha” or “Ying Sha” as he had studied at a national school before going to a university where Bahasa Malaysia was the medium of instruction.

“Similarly, it is hard to determine whether the party is only made up of (pure) Hua Sha and Ying Sha. This is unfair to the party structure. (Like me), members come from various educational backgrounds, which made it hard to put labels on them,” he said.

“To me, the debate on the so-called Hua Sha and Ying Sha is not a healthy one. DAP cannot allow any chauvinistic thinking in the party, no matter what kind of chauvinism,” he was also quoted saying.

This debate was highlighted after Sungai Pelek assemblyman and DAP central executive committee member Ronnie Liu recently said DAP is a multiracial party that does not need to dilute its Chineseness or portray itself as a non-Chinese party in order to draw Malay support. His remarks have drawn criticism from fellow DAP leaders such as national publicity secretary Tony Pua. Besides criticising the DAP leadership, Liu has also suggested DAP merge with other parties to become a bigger multiracial party.

According to Malaysiakini, DAP has more than 200,000 members, with those of Chinese ethnicity accounting for 70 per cent, while Indians and Malays respectively account for up to 20 per cent and less than 10 per cent.

Loke was reported as saying that 30 per cent of DAP’s members or 60,000 of them are non-Chinese.

In the same interview, Loke was reported as saying that DAP will not ignore the Chinese community’s concerns even as the party has embraced diversity, noting that the new party leadership would have to face the challenge of balancing the situation.

Loke also indicated that DAP would need time to raise up Malay leaders and Malay candidates as changes take time in politics, and that the party’s core leadership would still feature the same leaders who have built themselves up over the years.

Denying that DAP contests mainly in Chinese-majority seats in general elections, Loke highlighted that about 20 of the 42 parliamentary seats won by DAP in the 2018 elections are Chinese majority, while the other seats included mixed seats with Malay-majority such as Bangi, Seremban, Tenom as well as Bumiputera-majority seat Mas Gading in Sarawak.

On June 20, DAP is set to hold its national party congress as well as the election for its central executive committee, where 86 candidates are reportedly vying for a spot on the committee.

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