Small Cabinet presence a bitter pill for DAP to swallow, say analysts

Small Cabinet presence a bitter pill for DAP to swallow, say analysts

IPOH, Dec 10 — DAP members will understand the reality that their party must concede some Cabinet spots despite having the most seats in the national unity government, according to political analysts.

After the 15th general election, DAP emerged with 40 MPs, ahead of PKR with 31, Amanah’s eight, Barisan Nasional’s 30 (including 26 from Umno), Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s 23, and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah’s six.

Compared to DAP’s four ministers, PKR has eight, Umno has six, GPS has five, Amanah has two, and GRS has one minister in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet.

However, the analysts said DAP’s members and supporters have accepted prioritising the formation of Anwar’s unity government, even if it meant less influence for the single largest party in the administration.

University of Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) socio-political analyst Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said DAP members could see that apparent dominance by their party could become political ammunition for the Opposition.

PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) have frequently used DAP as a conduit to criticise and reject the government, he pointed out.

“During the formation of the unity government, many DAP members wanted harmony and unity and they did not want people to think DAP wanting to dominate the government.

“Therefore, the DAP members understand this sentiment; in fact, they are big-hearted and willing to sacrifice to ensure the harmony and unity preserved in the country,” he told Malay Mail.

The move should deflect some of the claims that Anwar’s government was controlled by the DAP, he said.

According to senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) Azmi Hassan, however, DAP members have been quiet and accepting of their party’s relatively low presence in the Cabinet to avoid alienating BN.

He also said it was the reality of the zero-sum game that was politics.

“If BN were pushed to a corner, then the race and religion card will crop again in this government and this will force BN to think whether they should continue their support for the leadership of Anwar.

“If Pakatan Harapan falls, then PAS will come up, so I guess even though DAP did not get or only get non-important portfolios beside the Transport Ministry, I think this is part of DAP strategies to make sure Anwar receive the support from BN,” he explained.

Azmi suggested that DAP and its members accepted the strategic thinking necessary to give the Anwar administration a chance to last at least for half a term, and possibly for a full one.

In the Cabinet line-up Anwar announced last Friday, only four DAP representatives were named among the 28 members.

They were Anthony Loke (Transport), Nga Kor Ming (Local Government Development), Hannah Yeoh (Youth and Sports) and V. Sivakumar (Human Resources).

Aside from the 11 portfolios that Umno and GPS received, a deputy prime minister was also appointed from the each.

Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun said the DAP under-representation in the Cabinet has already been noted by some in the party.

Among them was Penang DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow who expressed his disappointment that none of his state’s federal lawmakers made it to the Cabinet. Sarawak DAP MPs were also expressly omitted as part of the compromise with GPS.

According to Oh, DAP secretary-general Loke will need to address this unhappiness before it causes resentment within the party and its grassroots.

“Already Penang’s Chow is grumbling, so Loke has to assuage its supporters,” he said.

Yesterday, Anwar appeared to salve DAP’s sensibilities by naming six of the party’s lawmakers as deputy ministers, including Steven Sim to the powerful Finance Ministry.

The PM also named Lim Hui Ying, the sister of DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng and the daughter of party stalwart Lim Kit Siang, as the deputy minister for education.

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