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Why Malays are gravitating towards DAP

Dyana Sofya - Photograph: The Rocket

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The platform from which our voices can be heard and opinions shared is far better than the one Umno Baru may provide, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.

Dyana Sofya - Photograph: The Rocket
Dyana Sofya – Photograph: Roketkini

There is a lot of speculation as to why DAP decided to field ‘newcomer’ Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud as its candidate in Teluk Intan.

To most she is seen as a protégé, while those who are still unable to fathom her decision to join DAP have begun their personal campaign to destroy her image and credibility.

As a matter of fact, any Malay candidate would have been subjected to certain levels of political animosity and slander. In the past, other Malay candidates had gone through the same maltreatment and been imperilled by vicious threats made by ultra-right wing hate groups.

Being relatively young (compared to the average age of our MPs) and beautiful (though beauty is subjective) makes her an easy target, but the naysayers have underestimated this intelligent lass. Dyana Sofya is the face of hope and will bring forth much needed change to this country.

Of course, at this stage, Malaysians are aware of how vicious the powers that be can be when they have an agenda to accomplish, and these past few weeks leading up to her nomination showed us again just how uncouth they are capable of being.

For decades, the DAP has been labelled a ‘Chinese party’ and accused of being chauvinistic. It is undeniable that Malaysians of Chinese descent make up the majority of party members, but that is merely coincidental as a direct result of Umno’s Malay-centric policies.

Some might even say that years of disseminating misinformation via government-controlled media influenced our political views and distorted our logic. But the truth is in the name and there is a reason why DAP stands for Democratic Action Party.

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When Umno Baru and its supporters spew bigoted slogans, it only confirms it is utterly oblivious towards its own homogenous brand of race-based and raciallybiased policies, which have been etched through their own party names (Umno Baru, MIC & MCA).

The local political scene, before alternative media were available to average Malaysians, was far simpler. It was ‘us’ versus ‘them’, and this tactic worked for a while for Umno Baru. But like everything else that lacks maintenance and care, or in this case, when a party has become too complacent, slowly but surely, cracks begin to appear.

Many of us see flaws in the system; we know how policies and funds were misused; we know of the business opportunities that lay ahead of us if we pledge our loyalty to them.

We see things in a different way now and we want to progress as a nation – together. We are tired of being segregated because of our race and religion. We do not need to be told whom we are allowed to befriend and support.

We are worn out by the lies; our education system is deteriorating, and the economy is not doing so well. The powers that be seem out of touch with the harsh realities Malaysians have to deal with every single day. They justify the need for GST and the recent increase in electricity tariffs, but these are fabrications that the powers that be churn out haphazardly; hence, the never-ending flip- flop in published statements and remarks.

But the concerns of the minorities and the marginalised are different as most of them have become victims of developmental promises gone awry. This is one of the many issues that must be given priority.

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Unfortunately, the powers that be have lost the plot. They are too busy enriching their own lives and living comfortably in their politically incestuous circle.

When Malaysians of Malay-Muslim descent join DAP, we are harshly marked as apostates, traitors and unappreciative of the privileges the Constitution has guaranteed us. The truth could not be further, and questioning our loyalty is unreasonable. The Constitution does not favour any political party but favours the rights of all Malaysians.

Our system does not demand Malaysians to blindly accept any specific political doctrines, nor does it require us to brand each other as ingrates. We must be made to understand that loyalty is not conformity, and true loyalty does not command the destruction or blocking of another person’s loyalty.

Loyalty is a faithful adherence which involves a bond between people or allegiance to a cause or principle. It is not a mere sentiment or opinion.

But understand that loyalty is by no means mechanical obedience. Malaysians are permitted to adhere freely and firmly to what they value as respectable and genuine, not to what is imposed or forced upon them.

We have become too indoctrinated with political loyalties that we have forgotten human fidelity, and this is the message we want to get across. The conflicts sandwiched between religious loyalty and political loyalty have been too frequently dramatised and over sensationalised by the powers that be.

Many of us join DAP (and Pakatan Rakyat) because we see the opportunity to contribute to the development and progress of our great nation. The platform from which our voices can be heard and opinions shared is far better than the one Umno Baru may provide.

The former is now seen as a catalyst for change and they are willing to listen. The latter has become too synonymous with the distressing culture of corruption and has stopped listening to Malaysians some time ago.

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We know that the powers that be will shower marginalised communities with one-off payments and boast about how they care for the well being of these communities, but that does not amount to sustainable development. I am a firm believer of the saying, “Give a person a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a person to fish, she will eat for a lifetime.”

This approach to development and progress will have greater impact in empowering fellow Malaysians, and that will be the key factor that can see through our country’s transformation to a developed nation. And this will not require us to cheat and steal RM250m from those who rightfully need it.

Yes, most of them come from families who have supported Umno one way or another; some of us come from families that still do.

But we also know of the heartaches Malaysian families have gone through because they were not well connected enough to get into public universities or to obtain much-needed financial aid. These issues are enough to make us speak out against the oppression and discrimination our fellow Malaysians are subjected to.

Fact is, many of us see renewed hope, optimism and confidence in people like Dyana Sofya, Senator Ariffin Omar, Zairil Khir Johari and Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. This is something many of us find extremely inspiring.

But, on a lighter note, for these politicians and other DAP members of Malay-Muslim descent, this coming Raya family gathering will definitely be very interesting and ‘lively’.

Syerleena Abdul Rashid is the political education director of the Bukit Bendera DAP women’s wing.

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