Dr Tan Seng Giaw: He is dominant everywhere he goes, “Mahathir will not change”

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Astro Awani

Astro Awani

Kuala Lumpur 11 April – “Dr Mahathir will never change.”

DAP, which was once the long-time enemy of Tun Mahathir and Umno, but now together with Mahathir formed Pakatan Harapan and are in retaliation against Barisan Nasional. The veteran of DAP Dr Tan Seng Giaw said: “Mahathir will never change.”

The eighth term member of parliament, in an interview with Sin Chew Daily, shook his head when asked whether former Prime Minister and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman Tun Mahathir, described as a dictator during his 22 year in the ruling government, would change after leaving Umno and join the opposition.

Wherever Mahathir is present, he would always be dominant, “He will have his say; others have no say.” said Dr Tan.

“He will minimise everyone, wrap each and everyone up and put into his pocket. This is Mahathir.”

Iron man politics established in Operasi Lalang

The ‘relationship’ of DAP and Mahathir dates back a long, long time; Operasi Lalang is one of them.

On 27 October 1987, MCA, Gerakan and DAP launched a protest rally against the unreasonable measure by Mahathir who sent non-Chinese literate teachers to hold senior positions in Chinese primary schools. Mahathir launched Ops Lalang on the pretext of racial tension and arrested a total of 106 people, shutdown three newspapers. One of them is Sin Chew Daily.

Of the 106 people, those arrested include Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Karpal Singh, Dr Tan and some Chinese education activists.

Four others Chinese education activists including Lim Fong Seng and Sim Mow Yu, seven other MPs including Lim Kit Siang, Dr Tan Seng Giaw, Karpal Singh were detained under Internal Security Act until their release in batches starting from June 1988. Lim Kit Siang was only released in April 1989.

This was also the most extensive use of Internal Security Act after it was implemented where the media labelled Mahathir as ‘iron man in politics’.

Helpless for using blue eye as logo

DAP was founded on 18 March 1966 and participated in General Election in 1969. It shot to fame after winning 31 parliamentary seats and 31 state seats. The Rocket has since taking part in many elections, going through ups and downs. In this General Election, DAP has decided to forgo the Rocket logo and used the Parti Keadilan Rakyat logo instead.

Dr Tan knew that the move was looking at a greater picture in order to win more votes in rural area. However, the decision to discard the use of Rocket bothered him judging from his tone of language.

“A logo which takes 52 years to build is now changed into blue eye.”

“It was once the red in the midst of white backdrop but now blue instead.” The remark revealed a Rocket veteran’s helplessness and unable to let go.

Reserve on Mahathir’s influence

DAP has decided to team up with Mahathir for a greater picture as it needed Mahathir to move the Malays in rural area. However, he remained reserve about Mahathir’s influence in rural area. The answer would only be out when the ballot boxes are opened.

What is the direction of DAP in future as it is now working with its former enemy turned ally Mahathir?

Dr Tan said the outcome of the ballot box would determine the future direction of DAP.

He analysed that if Mahathir has profound impact on rural Malays which see change of government, DAP may end up as a weak party in Pakatan Harapan. In contrast, DAP may end up in an embarrassing situation suffering defeat where it has to pick up the Rocket logo again.

DAP once said finishing off MCA is a ‘historical mission’. On this, Dr Tan is of the view that MCA has its strength in the business circle and finishing off MCA is an impossible mission.

Not contesting as independent candidate

Dr Tan has joined DAP in 1978 and was fielded to contest Kepong in Federal Territory since 1982. He holds the track record as an eighth straight term Member of Parliament. In the coming 14th General Election, he has been confirmed that he would not be fielded. Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng is replacing him to contest in Kepong.

Dr Tan said he was informed on 5 April.

He said party central leadership is given the power to pick election candidates. He accepted the decision and did not plan to contest as an independent candidate.

“I am a politician, not a tailor. I can’t tailor new clothes for myself.”

In his eyes, the DAP has undergone drastic changes as an opposition party and a ruling party.

DAP changed after it ruled Penang and Selangor

When DAP was an opposition party, it went through hardship. Resources were not only scarce but they faced constraints. The entire party was wrapped in the mood of going against the odds. However, it is now the ruling party in Selangor and Penang, sentiment in party has changed.  When one is your own boss, he no longer requires working harder and the mindset is also different.

Dr Tan sees change of mind set due to change of time as perfectly normal.

Success or failure, they are all gone at a head’s turn. The mountain remains and sunset still can be seen each day. This is the description on himself. Even if he is not fielded, Dr Tan said he would not end his political career. He would continue to serve and remain active.

Response to “helping Najib” to unlock impasse

On the claim of helping Najib to unlock impasse, Dr Tan said Malaysia is governed by rule of law. One would have to show proof before an accused is convicted by the judge. Based on 1MDB reports, no evidence had shown that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was ‘guilty’. It merely showed there were issues with former chief executive officer of 1MDB Datuk Shahrul Ibrahim Halmi. Thorough probe should be conducted to find their real cause.

“This involves public fund and it should be open and transparent.”