by Himanshu Bhatt
May 20, 2014
GEORGE TOWN (May 20): PKR’s Dr Afif Bahardin, who at 29 is the youngest state executive councillor in the country, launched a vigorous defence of aspiring lawmaker Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud today after she had been reportedly attacked by rival politicians from Umno for supposedly betraying Malays by joining DAP.
Speaking at the Penang state assembly, Afif in particular hit out at suggestions that Dyana, 27, had become such a betrayer as she graduated from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).
Like Dyana, Afif is also a graduate of UiTM, having obtained his medical degree there in 2009. He also won the Seberang Jaya seat last year when he was about the same age as Dyana is now in contesting the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election.
“I am a product of UiTM… Youths like Dyana and I are from UiTM and we are active the way we are because we are fed up with Umno-Barisan Nasional,” he said.
Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has been reported to have privately told Dyana during the by-election nominations two days ago to not be a traitor, reminding her that she is a UiTM graduate.
The incident came about after Shahrizat had earlier criticised DAP for picking Dyana.
Dyana has also been the target of a smear effort in the social media where a photo of a Filipino actress in a bikini was spread around with false labelling as being the young DAP politician.
Afif rose to support Dyana after the BN’s assembly member for Teluk Ayer Tawar, Datuk Jahara Hamid, who is the state opposition head, commented that Dyana was in fact a product of the BN system, referring to UiTM being an institution developed by the BN federal government.
Speaking at a press conference later, Afif said the attacks against Dyana were uncalled for.
“UiTM was formed not for Umno leaders only. It is a higher education institution for all Malaysian bumiputras,” he said.
“I was in UiTM not because I supported Umno but because I got the grades to get there by merit,” he stressed, adding that neither his parents nor grandparents are Umno members.
Objecting to any move to pressure UiTM students to be indebted to Umno, he said: “We have our own strength, our own dignity. We can succeed on our own merits!”
“In UiTM we were taught to be good citizens, to be part of the country’s democracy, to express our views… I joined PKR, she (Dyana) joined DAP.”
Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng decried the comments that have surfaced on Dyana’s looks and appearance following her selection as the party’s candidate in Teluk Intan.
“The time has come for us not to have this kind of sexist attitude towards female candidates,” he said.
“We chose her because of her brains, brawns and most importantly her idealism.”
He also pointed out that the DAP’s candidate for the Bukit Gelugor by-election, Ramkarpal Singh, has not been cast in the same light as he is a man.
“You have a false picture of Dyana in a bikini coming out. But you don’t find false pictures of Ramkarpal in swimming trunks,” he quipped.
He also praised Dyana for daring to stand up against Shahrizat’s alleged reference to her as a traitor made “on her face.”
Lim also took exception to claims Dyana is too young to run as MP at 27, saying that voters should then not be given the right to vote at 21.
He noted that he also had no experience in running the state when he became Penang chief minister in 2008.
“We don’t have experience in stealing money and being corrupt, and I think that is the most important quality,” he said.
Dyana faces BN’s Datuk Mah Siew Keong, who is Gerakan president, in a straight fight in the Teluk Intan by-election scheduled to take place on May 31, following the passing of its MP, Seah Leong Peng of DAP.
The Bukit Gelugor parliamentary by-election is slated for May 28. It has been called following the death of DAP MP Karpal Singh, who was Ramkarpal’s father.
Ramkarpal faces Parti Cinta Malaysia’s Datuk Huan Cheng Guan and two independent candidates.