KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim has quit the party following his public spat with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders over the April 28 Bersih rally, which the former senator said should not have proceeded at Dataran Merdeka.
Tunku Aziz had also withdrawn his candidacy as a senator for the party after being told his open criticism of the opposition-backed electoral reforms movement had caused discontent among DAP members.
“I will therefore resign my membership from the DAP and I will be advising the party within the next few minutes. I think the time has come for me to take a hard, very serious look at my own position within the party culture, the party system,” he said on national television tonight.
The founding president of Transparency International Malaysia explained on ntv7’s “Chat Time With...” programme that “based on what they have said and given the very deep chasm, very wide differences now which are irreconcilable, there is no alterative but for [him] to seek to withdraw with some dignity left.”
He added that he had been “warned by [his] friends and colleagues that [he] should be prepared to be sacked. But so far there has been no indication from the top leadership that this would be my fate.”
[People are] saying that ‘Tunku Aziz has been bought over by Umno’ and... I’ve been paid millions of dollars by the MCA; so be it.
Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had previously been forced to rebuke Tunku Aziz for not toeing the party line on Bersih.
But Tunku clarified tonight that he has always supported Bersih but only disagreed with proceeding with an illegal gathering after the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and police had refused to allow the movement to use the historic square for their rally.
“But you know they also claim that I had not consulted the leadership. Why should I consult the leadership when I was not breaking the pledge to support Bersih?
“The difference is that I would not support Bersih if it got itself into illegal activities,” he said.
Tunku Aziz, who was immediately made vice-chairman of DAP when he joined in 2008, also said “the government is on the right track” as it is now listening to the people.
“We have made our protest known to them, but don’t forget, you know, they are a legitimate government, elected by us. Alright, we have made our point… we have had three Bersih protests. Do you think we need anymore? A non-listening government will not be doing all of these things.
“Some of these people watching this programme, they’re saying that ‘Tunku Aziz has been bought over by Umno’ and... I’ve been paid millions of dollars by the MCA; so be it. This seems to be the standard script for anyone who disagrees with them,” he added.
DAP has tried to reach out to Malays by recruiting leaders such as Tunku Aziz, but the latter has conceded his failure to win over the community to the Chinese-dominated party that has been accused by Umno of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam.
The April 28 rally, which saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka, was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.
But her call was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted around Dataran Merdeka, which the courts had already barred to the public over the weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protestors breached a barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Police then continued to pursue the rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.
Several dozen demonstrators have claimed that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim, but police also point to violence from rally-goers, some of whom attacked a police car.
The police car then crashed into a building before some protestors flipped it on its side.