To stir controversy and not know how to douse it is only going to create problems for the DCM II and DAP.
The on-going altercation between DAP national chairman Karpal Singh and Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy serves as a costly lesson for both the party and the latter.
Ramasamy has been in the spotlight the past week for making a premature announcement in Tamil daily Makkal Osai on Nov 28 on party’s Indian candidates for the 13th general election.
This prompted the 71-year-old Karpal to chastise Ramasamy, who is also DAP’s national deputy secretary-general, for behaving like a warlord by promising seats for candidates of his choice.
Ramasamy, also the Penang DAP deputy chief, responded by calling the party to get rid of godfathers, in an obvious reference to Karpal.
Many party leaders and members felt Ramasamy’s godfather remark had undermined party elders such as Dr Chen Man Hin, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal.
While Karpal and Ramasamy are embroiled in a war of words, DAP’s arch enemy, Umno, is grabbing the opportunity to impress upon the rakyat, Penangites in particular, that the current internal crisis facing DAP is proof that unity is an asset this party cannot claim to have.
With Umno loyalists wasting no time scurrying about painting a bad picture of DAP, the rift between Karpal and Ramasamy needs urgent repair.
Karpal, once dubbed the “Tiger of Jelutong”, has been with DAP through thick and thin.
A former detainee under the now-defunct Internal Security Act (ISA), his affection for DAP is understandable and so is his anger towards Ramasamy for branding DAP veterans “godfathers” or “warlords”.
Ramasamy, an academician-turned politician, has miles to walk in politics. Perhaps it was his arrogance as DCM II that resulted in him making those remarks, which have backfired on him.
The no-nonsense Karpal give Ramasamy an ultimatum – either apologise or face the music for misbehaving. On Dec 11, at the Penang DAP convention, Karpal cautioned Ramasamy not to let power get to the former lecturer’s head.
The ferocious lawyer also demanded Ramasamy immediately retract and apologise for his godfather remark against the party’s veteran leaders, especially him.
Reminding Ramasamy that the position of DCM II was an honour to ethnic Indian community, Karpal said it was thanks to DAP that Ramasamy won in the 2008 general election.
Ramasamy has lots to learn as a politician
The incident brings with it hard lessons for Ramasamy who quit his lecturing job in Singapore to venture into politics. To stir controversy and not know how to douse it is only going to create problems for both him and the party.
Having labelled Karpal and the other veterans of DAP as “godfathers”, Ramasamy has given the impression that the party operates along the lines of “mafia-ism”, something which Karpal said was unthinkable as DAP is a party for all races.
If at all DAP works ala “mafia”, when really did Ramasamy realise this? Where did he gain the conviction that the very party which gave him his political break is all about mafia?
What about the sacrifices of veterans like Karpal and Lim Kit Siang? Do they amount to nothing?
Or has this DCM II become “too big for his shoes”, ambitiously confident about his future in politics?
Perhaps it has… for Ramasamy said he was willing to quit DAP if necessary and return to his hometown in Sitiawan.
Karpal is furious, too, that Ramasamy, with his announcement on party candidatures, had trespassed all party decorum, as it was seen as usurping the power of the central executive committee.
Ramasamy was also taken to task for promoting an unknown individual, lawyer K Mangaleswari, as a candidate for the Jawi state constituency.
As it stands, Umno supporters in Penang have accused state Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of performing poorly as a leader, so much so that they had the cheek to send him birthday cakes resembling human excreta.
Now, with the on-going spat between Karpal and Ramasamy, all these Umno opportunists need is to brainwash the people into believing that DAP is crumbling.
To MIC central committee member KP Samy, who also leads a group of former Hindraf leaders, the feud reflects the weaknesses of the Indian leaders in Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition representing PKR, DAP and PAS.
Samy claimed that Pakatan won the support of the Indian voters thanks to the efforts of Hindraf but post-2008, nothing had been done to help the Indian community.
“Can they quantify as to what they had done for the community? They should put forth a detailed manifesto of their guarantees to the community in the next general election,” said Samy.
More tongues have started wagging over DAP’s ability to serve the rakyat. Something has to be done soon to get the message across that the party in no way tolerates saboteurs while Ramasamy must not forget that “biting the hand that feeds it” will bring severe repercussions.
One such example was how Karpal refused Guan Eng’s effort in getting both Karpal and Ramasamy to shake hands as a show of easing the feud.
“I can forgive but I can’t forget… because of his insult of party veterans with his godfather remark,” Karpal said later.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.