— Ong Kian Ming
The Malay Mail Online
May 24, 2014
MAY 24 — I have the privilege of knowing Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, DAP’s candidate for the parliamentary seat of Teluk Intan, for more than a year. During this time I have found her to be a resourceful, intelligent, diligent and very capable young lady with a bright future ahead of her. I have been inspired by her youthful idealism and energy. I am confident that if elected, she will make the Teluk Intan voters proud to have her as their Member of Parliament. Here are three reasons why I support her candidacy in Teluk Intan.
Firstly, she has shown her ability to think critically and independently on a number of important national issues. And she has demonstrated her ability to defend these her positions despite facing vicious attacks from her detractors. For example, in September 2013, she suggested that poor non-Malays should be given an opportunity to study in a tertiary institution that is similar to UiTM, which was set up with the specific purpose of helping Bumiputeras from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue higher education opportunities. Even though she did not ask for UiTM to be opened up to non-Malays, she was attacked by many high ranking officials and politicians including an Umno Selangor leader and former Minister, Datuk Noh Omar, and the Vice Chancellor of UiTM, Tan Sri Prof Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar.I doubt that many MPs would have stood their ground the way Dyana did in the face of all these attacks. She remained unfazed and steadfast.
Later on, she was not afraid to point out the ludicrousness of a proposal to make UiTM into a ‘Royal’ university in order to ‘protect’ its Bumiputera status especially since one arm of UiTM – INTEC – is already open to non-Bumiputeras.
She is clearly not afraid of calling out top BN-Umno leaders whether it is asking Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi, not to make Malaysia a laughing stock when accusing Mat Sabu of being involved in the Shia movement with any concrete evidence or reminding the former IGP, Tan Sri Hanif Omar, that Dr Mahathir himself had questioned and criticized the Malays.
She has brought up the need to think critically on a number of issues including the importance of our Rukunegara,the failure and dangers of the BiroTataNegara (BTN) especially in impacting inter-ethnic relations and the need to understand and remember our history.
These are exactly the qualities which are needed in a Member of Parliament – someone who is not afraid to question the status quo and to come up with alternatives on how to make our country into a better place for everyone under the sun. Indeed, I can safely say that Dyana Sofya, in her one year as Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary, has said and written more substantively on important national issues than Mah Siew Keong during his 7 months as Gerakan President.
Secondly, she has shown her capability in taking on her many responsibilities as Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary. Although not originally from Johor, Dyana relocated herself to serve the voters of Gelang Patah in tackling their constituency problems. I am confident that she will bring the same energy and experience in tackling the constituency problems in Teluk Intan.
During her time in Johor, she has also tackled new issues and tried new methods to address these issues. For example, even though she is not a big fan of reptiles and wildlife, she took time to visit the mangrove swamps in Sungai Pulai in order to understand the importance Ramsar wetlands sites. In doing so, she understood the importance of not just preserving these sites for their environmental significance but also their importance in preserving the livelihood of the people, including fishermen, who live near these wetlands. As a small way of addressing this problem, Dyana, together with her DAP colleagues in Johor and a local NGO called Jaring, organized a group of about 100 volunteers to plant 500 mangrove seedlings to increase awareness on the need to conserve these mangrove wetlands.
In addition, Dyana also undertook new initiatives to reach out to Malay voters by connecting them with some DAP representatives. For example, her own family hosted Howard Lee, DAP ADUN for Pasir Pinji I was also a beneficiary of this programme when Dyana put me in touch with Muhaimin, a culinary student as well as an avid DOTA player. I got to spend a night at Muhaimin’s house in Datok Keramat, KL, watched him play DOTA with his online friends and also hung out at the mamak with some of his secondary school friends including Umar Azmi, a student activist who was arrested during the Occupy Dataran movement in 2012.
Thirdly, Dyana has consistently shown a great desire to continuously learn and improve herself. She constantly engages with her more experienced colleagues at the DAP headquarters in KL and at the state level in order to fill gaps in her own knowledge. She regularly attends conferences and seminars on a diverse range of issues covering economics, education and environmental issues in order to gain new knowledge. She is always willing to take on new projects and challenges. Prior to being named, she had submitted a proposal to revive the ‘Kuiz Kenegaraan’ or Nationhood Quiz as a means to increase exposure to and knowledge of our constitution, history, art & culture, religion, national leaders, government policies and international relations. Unlike past efforts, however, she proposed a format for this Quiz that would be decided by a bottom-up consultative approach that would make the quiz a true reflection of Malaysian society.
It is exactly these sorts of new ideas and ways of looking at existing challenges in Malaysia that is very much needed at every level of government. Dyana is a breath of fresh air in the Malaysian political landscape that will spur on the winds of change, starting in Teluk Intan, and then spreading to the rest of the country.
I urge the voters of Teluk Intan to vote Dyana based on her abilities, her capabilities, her ideas and idealism, her youthful spirit and energy, her steadfastness and maturity. I urge the voters of Teluk Intan to cast a vote in support of the future of Malaysian politics. I urge the voters of Teluk Intan to cast a vote to break down racial, religious, linguistic, cultural, gender and age barriers.
* Dr Ong Kian Ming is the MP for Serdang