by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
September 07, 2013
Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, one of DAP’s young and upcoming leaders, has challenged former Cabinet minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar to point out how helping Malaysians get a tertiary education could make her racist.
The Umno Selangor state liaison chief and other politicians had criticised the political secretary to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang after she proposed that an institution like Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) be set up for non-Malays.
“First of all, I did not say that we should open UiTM to the non-Bumis. In the interview I mentioned that we should have something like UiTM for the non-Bumis,” she told The Malaysian Insider late last night in Kuala Lumpur.
In an earlier interview with the Malaysiakini news portal, Dyana said a higher learning education institution like UiTM should be set up for non-Malays. She said she felt sorry for her non-Malay friends who were denied the right to pursue their education at higher learning institutions.
“I would like to challenge Datuk Noh Omar to explain to me how wanting to help needy Malaysians, regardless of race is racist?” she said, adding she failed to understand how having a multicultural student community will cause the country to deteriorate.
Dyana pointed out that while UiTM had a noble objective, which is to help needy students, its purpose had changed over the years.
“With minimum student fee, the students are able to enjoy quality education, good facilities and graduate with recognised university qualifications. It was a heaven-sent help for my middle-class family. All four of my siblings were accepted into UiTM.
“However, UiTM does not just accept needy students anymore, they are opening their doors to not just applicants from middle-income or low-income families.
“I remember having a junior that was a daughter of a then minister, driving around in a Peugeot in campus,” she said.
She argued that if UiTM was able to provide the same privilege – a good degree with a minimum fee – to students from high-income families, needy non-Malay citizens should also be given the same treatment.
“Is it too much to ask for the same treatment for my fellow Malaysian friends? Is asking for fairness or sharing of wealth with my fellow Malaysians a ‘racist’ statement?
“I am patriotic enough to look at the hardships of my fellow Malaysians and walk in their shoes. I suggest that Datuk Noh Omar and Barisan Nasional leaders like him do the same.”
Noh had said that Dyana had made a racist statement with her suggestion and that she had no right to question UiTM’s existence.
“She does not know her history and hence, she has no patriotic spirit. UiTM is clearly protected under Article 153 of the Constitution. This is our right. Don’t question it,” said the former minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry.
UiTM former vice-chancellor Tan Sri Ibrahim Abu Shah, who was also offended with the proposal, noted that Bumiputera students were still lagging behind compared with the achievements of students from other races.
“If UiTM accepts non-Bumiputera students, our country will deteriorate as there would not be an understanding between races in Malaysia,” he had said.
She was also called a traitor by many quarters who criticised her for even suggesting the idea.
The UiTM law graduate was also labelled as “a Malay who does not know her history” by Umno leaders.
Dyana was born in Ipoh, into a family of Umno members. Her mother is still an Umno member and was the first division secretary for the party’s women’s wing in Malaysia.
She is serving full-time as Lim’s political secretary since the general election in May.
Dyana first came to prominence in early 2012, when Lim held a press conference to announce her entry into DAP. – September 7, 2013.