In Gelang Patah, DAP campaigner fights party’s ‘anti-Malay’ tag

By Ida Lim and Mohd Farhan Darwis

SKUDAI, May 4 ― A young Malay DAP leader is working hard to break the “stigma” that her party is allegedly anti-Malay and anti-Islam, even as she campaigns for Lim Kit Siang in the Gelang Patah hot seat.

In a recent interview with The Malaysian Insider, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, a Perak-born lawyer spoke of her role in Lim’s campaign team in the federal constituency where Malays make up a sizeable 34 per cent of the registered voters there.

“One of my biggest roles is to go to Malay areas to actually tell them that DAP is OK.

“DAP is not anti-Malay, anti-Islam and, actually, they are fighting for all we should believe in,” she said of her message to voters when stumping for Lim.

“I don’t even feel like I’m the only Malay here,” the 26-year-old later said of her experience in working with her “Chinese friends”, gesturing at the room where volunteers were busy preparing Lim’s campaign material for distribution.

“Basically we share the same values, we still eat the same food, we live in the same country, I don’t see why we cannot work together,” she said, saying that she did not see the need to differentiate friends according to their ethnic groups.

Having taken a month off from her job to aid Lim’s campaign, Dyana said she goes from door-to-door, markets and other public areas to promote the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

She highlighted what she described as rare instances where Malay voters had reacted adversely, sharing an anecdote about a man in a night market telling PR campaigners, “Nanti kita kuburkan Kit Siang (later we bury Kit Siang)”, in an apparent description of the intention to cause Lim’s defeat at the May 5 polls.

The Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) graduate acknowledged that the perception of DAP as a Chinese party still lingers in the public mind.

“Yes, of course, after 55 years of brainwashing, the stigma is still there. We are working very hard to break that.

“We have to break the stigma that DAP is a Chinese party... just that the majority of the party members are Chinese, that’s all,” she said.

Dyana said she had to explain to voters about the use of the Chinese language in ceramahs and assure them the content of the political speeches does not differ from the Malay version.

“At the same time, our ceramah speakers translate what they speak in Chinese,” the DAP member said, saying that some PR ceramahs are conducted in up to four languages ― Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English.

PR events have seen the opposition pact’s leaders switching smoothly back and forth from the Malay to Chinese dialects when catering to a mixed-crowd.

Dyana is fluent in English and the Malay language and knows a smattering of phrases in the Chinese language, including the DAP’s slogan of “May 5, change government”.

The 26-year-old, who has been unfazed by attacks on blogs against her for being a Malay campaigner for DAP, has acted as the master of ceremonies for numerous ceramahs since joining the party in 2011.

She was the co-host of a massive ceramah at Sutera Mall early this week, which PR said was attended by 50,000 people, having hosted a similar one at the same place last week.

Now an exco member of the Perak DAP’s Youth wing (DAPSY), she said she found out about the party through a family friend, former Umno man Aspan Alias, adding that she has the full backing of her mother who staunchly supports Umno.

DAP advisor Lim is leading the charge into Johor ― Barisan Nasional (BN)’s southern bastion ― with other PR heavyweights such as PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub and DAP’s Liew Chin Tong.

As 72-year-old Lim pushes for a win in the MCA stronghold of Gelang Patah, pro-BN blogs have recently claimed that the veteran leader has faced a cold reception during walkabouts in Malay-majority areas.

He faces four-term Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, a formidable opponent from BN, in a straight fight for the seat that is composed of 52 per cent Chinese and 12 per cent Indians.

MCA’s Tan Ah Eng had defeated PKR candidates twice in the seat with a 31,666 vote-majority and a smaller 8,851 vote-majority in 2004 and 2008.