BY BOO SU-LYN
The Malay Mail Online
May 18, 2014
TELUK INTAN, May 18 — At Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) where fees for a first degree cost just RM5,000, some Malay students drove luxury cars like Jaguars and Mercedes Benzes, according to Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud.
That made Dyana angry because non-Malay students from lower income families are kept out of the university simply because of their race.
Dyana is DAP’s choice for the Teluk Intan by-election on May 31, picked over more experienced candidates in a bid to boost the predominantly Chinese party’s multicultural credentials.
It is a role the 26 year old UiTM law graduate appears to have slipped into with ease as she looks to represent a constituency that is mainly Chinese.
“We should move on from race-based policies to needs-based policies, and at the same time, the Malays would still gain because the Malays are the majority who need it anyway,” she said in an interview with The Malay Mail Online.
Eliminating affirmative action policies favouring Bumiputeras would only be a problem for well-off Malays who unfairly benefit from race-based policies, she added.
Dyana’s entry in the race against Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong, a veteran politician twice her age, comes at a time when the dust has barely settled over the hudud controversy.
She said she believes that the Islamic penal code cannot be implemented in Malaysia as it contradicts the Federal Constitution, the country’s highest law.
“Not supporting the implementation of hudud in Malaysia does not make me less of a Muslim.”
“We live in a secular country with Islam as the official religion. That is what’s stated in the constitution.”
Dyana, also political secretary to DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, stressed that it was not un-Islamic to fight for secularism.
“I believe that some secular values are also taught in Islam. We fight for justice, we fight for good governance, accountability, speaking the truth, integrity. These are universal values,” she said.
She added that she would reassure Chinese voters, who are wary of her ethnicity, that she stood by the DAP’s stand against hudud, and that PAS has postponed plans to table parliamentary bills in its bid to implement the Islamic criminal justice system in Kelantan.
“It doesn’t matter what my race is; I can still serve the rakyat,” she said.
Dyana said she faces challenges in winning the Malay vote as the candidate from an opposition party that is seen as predominantly Chinese.
“It’s very normal for Malays to join Umno,” she said, pointing out that her mother, some uncles, cousins, and even distant relatives are members of the party that dominates Barisan Nasional.
“Turning my back on Umno doesn’t mean I’m a traitor to the Malays because Malays are not just constrained to Umno. I can still be Malay and not support Umno, because I believe that Malays are larger than Umno itself,” added Dyana who does not wear a headscarf.
She said that her family is supportive of her candidacy and added that she joined DAP in 2011 because she had friends there.
“I was not really comparing DAP, PAS, PKR,” she said.
The Teluk Intan by-election, which is scheduled on May 31, was triggered after DAP MP Seah Leong Peng recently died from cancer.
In the May 5 general election last year, Seah defeated BN’s Mah with a 7,313-vote majority.
The voter base in Teluk Intan is 42 per cent Chinese and 38 per cent Malay and 19 per cent Indian.