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M’sia Democratic Action Party seen as anti-Malay, anti-Islam, says survey

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Chinese-majority opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) is increasingly seen as an anti-Malay, anti-Islam and racist party by the Malays in Malaysia, especially in rural areas, according to a recent political survey by a think-tank.

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Chinese-majority opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) is increasingly seen as an anti-Malay, anti-Islam and racist party by the Malays in Malaysia, especially in rural areas, according to a recent political survey by a think-tank.

A survey conducted by the Selangor state government’s Darul Ehsan Institute (IDE) between Nov 13 and 15 last year, involving 1,716 Malay respondents in the state, found that almost two-thirds or 72 per cent agreed that DAP was a racist party and that it was only looking after the interests of the Chinese community.

Only 12 per cent disagreed, while 16 per cent said they were “unsure”.

The survey also found that more than half, or 64 per cent, of the respondents agreed that the DAP was an “anti-Malay and anti-Islam party”. Only some 18 per cent disagreed while 19 per cent were unsure.

The DAP and the opposition coalition it is part of — Pakatan Harapan — has been increasingly labelled by its foes, including the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), as anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

At last year’s UMNO General Assembly, its president, Mr Najib Razak, had painted Pakatan Harapan as anti-Islam and anti-Malay. UMNO has been in power since independence in 1957.

In 2013, it won the General Election by its slimmest result yet, as Chinese and Indian voters deserted the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, and since then Mr Najib has embraced policies that play to his support base of Malay voters.

The animosity against the DAP intensified after the break-up of the previous opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat in June last year, when the DAP parted ways with former ally PAS, Malaysia’s second-largest party of Malay Muslims.

IDE deputy chairman Dr Redzuan Othman said with UMNO and the PAS ties becoming warmer, the anti-DAP campaign became stronger as both the Malay parties use religion to attack it.

He said the level of suspicion and acrimony towards the DAP among Malays was high even in Selangor, where the party is part of the state government. Such sentiment was shared by many Malays throughout the country. “The anger and hatred are among rural Malays, especially among PAS members and supporters,” Mr Redzuan told The Malaysian Insider.

However, Mr Redzuan noted anti-DAP sentiments were smallest in constituencies with the DAP elected reps in Selangor. He said the lower anti-DAP feelings in these areas showed that perceptions towards the party can be changed through informed campaigns.

Commenting on the survey, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said “black propaganda” against his party had succeeded in making Malays hate it.

Mr Lim said the sentiment was real in rural areas where the DAP had no seats and where communities in such areas relied on mainstream media for news and information.

“That is the success of black propaganda ... It is a question of not being able to reach out to explain to the people there. We are not active in states like Terengganu and Kelantan,” he said in referring to Malaysia’s east coast states.

“If the election is called now, we will be in trouble, but we have another two years to put in efforts to explain,” he said. THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

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