PETALING JAYA: DAP may have missed an opportunity to hear a different approach in the fight for clean and fair elections when it chose to admonish instead of challenging its vice-president, Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim, over his criticism of the Bersih 3.0 rally.
Khoo Kay Peng , an independent political observer pointed out, the DAP leadership could have easily put Tengku Aziz in his place by demanding that he explain his statement and provide an alternative solution.
"If he thought Bersih's way was the wrong way, then what was the right way?" Khoo asked. "Tengku Aziz must be able to answer this question in his capacity as a vice-president and a senator."
"He cannot just stop by criticising everything without giving a solution because then the criticism would be pointless."
Tunku Aziz broke ranks with the party leadership just days before the rally by saying that it would encourage Malaysians to "break the law" and predicted that it would end up in "violence and chaos". His words rang true when police and protesters clashed an hour after the rally began.
In the aftermath, Tunku Aziz levelled further criticism at the Bersih 3.0 organisers and emphasised that they "are not a group of angels descended from heaven who are completely blameless."
This earned him a rapping by DAP secretary-general, Lim Guan Eng, for going against the party's stand and embarrassing the party leadership.
Yesterday Tunku Aziz confirmed that his remarks had cost him a re-election to his senator's position when his term expires at the end of this month.
While Khoo declined to comment on the dropping of Tengku Aziz as senator, he said that Lim's response had been "harsh" and that DAP had been inconsistent with its stand on democracy.
"Tunku Aziz had every right to speak his mind," Khoo stated. "Agreeing to disagree is the whole basis of democracy."
"DAP should learn to be consistent. If it is fighting for freedom of speech and assembly, then the leadership should also respect a person's right to a dissenting opinion."
MCA Wanita secretary-general, Chew Lee Giok, had earlier expressed the same opinion when she urged DAP not to take action against Tunku Aziz.
"It is a basic right for one to express his or her views and positions, and DAP should refrain fr! om rever ting to their normal methods of supressing dissidence," she said on Monday.
DAP has nominated Prof Dr Ariffin Omar to replace Tunku Aziz and former MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud to replace Penang PKR election director Mustafa Kamal Mohd Yusoff.