(Media Statement in Teluk Intan on Tuesday, 27th May 2014)
Tan Sri Dr. Ibrahim Abu Shah has suddenly burst into the Malaysian political landscape with an outrageous and sexist speech against one of his students, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, the DAP/Pakatan Raykat candidate in the Teluk Intan by-election, declaring that Dyana might have the looks but she lacks “inner beauty” that make her a good leader.
He further shocked the academic and political world with the astounding discovery that the Barisan Nasional candidate for the Teluk Intan by-election, the Gerakan President Datuk Mah Siew Keong is “prettier“ than Dyana, declaring:
“Beauty is not just physical. It counts for outer and inner. If I were to compare DAP’s candidate and BN’s, I would say BN’s candidate is prettier than DAP’s.”
Why such animus and outrageous speech by the nine-year Vice Chancellor of UiTM against one of UiTM alumni, Dyana Syofia?
The answer is simple. Dyana Sofya is testimony of the failure of Ibrahim Abu Shah as nine-year Vice Chancellor of UiTM to turn UiTM students into Umno robots and kill the idealism and Malaysian Dream of Malay youths.
Just as Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was wrong to blame Dyana’s mother, Yammy Samat for failure of an UMNO family to ensure that their children love and remain loyal to UMNO – when he himself is incapable of doing the same, producing a Marina apart from a Mukriz – it is wrong for Ibrahim Abu Shah to take it as a personal failure and affront that one of the UiTM students is a DAP candidate in pursuit of the Malaysian Dream where all Malaysians regard themselves first as Malaysians and their race, religion and region second, which is also the objective of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s signature 1Malaysia policy.
In this new politics of the future, the old politics of race will be replaced by the politics of Malaysian nationalism based on issues of justice, freedom, accountability and good governance.
Ibrahim Abu Shah’s failure to kill the idealism and Malaysian Dream of UiTM students as proven by Dyana’s 3Bs of “beauty, brains and bravery” standing firm as a DAP/PR candidate in the Teluk Intan by-election holds great promise for the future of Malaysia – reinforcing the belief that the extremists are only a slight minority as the majority of Malaysians regardless of race or religion are moderates who want Malaysia to succeed as a united, harmonious, multi-racial, multi-religious, progressive, prosperous and competitive nation.
A blog article by a 20-year old final year English Literature student at the University of Oxford, Yasmin Disney, who is from Kuala Lumpur and inspired by Dyana’s candidature, reflects this yearning and striving for a Malaysian Dream.
This is what Yasmin wrote:
“Like it or not, equality, justice and human rights are of fundamental importance to young people ― they recognise that an unfair system, even when it privileges them, is still an unfair system. This is an issue that is particularly close to my own heart.
“Having benefited in the past from policies that favour Bumiputeras, I have often questioned what it means to be both Malay and Malaysian and whether these two identities are ever in conflict.
“Logic dictates they shouldn’t be; the reality, as I’ve found, is far more complicated.
“Having lived abroad now for several years, the identity that has defined me above all else has been Malaysian. Being able to call myself Malaysian matters to me, in a million ways I can’t fully express. Increasingly, many young people, while retaining an appreciation of their culture, no longer identify themselves or others purely along racial lines.
“They see themselves, first and foremost, as Malaysians. And even when they don’t, they still don’t see Umno as the solution to their problems.
“The youth are often inexperienced, but they aren’t idiots. Malaysian universities may ban politics on campus, but it doesn’t stop students from forming and expressing strong opinions about the future of their nation.
“Now more than ever, whether educated locally or abroad, young people care about issues ― corruption, racism, sexism, freedom of speech, the rising cost of living ― and they often care passionately.
“For too long now, Umno has propagated the myth that the only way for Malays to protect their rights is to join them.
“But Dyana is fast dismantling that myth.
“Distracting the rakyat with what amounts to blatant smear tactics does nothing to address the deep disillusionment felt by the nation’s youth. And as more and more defect to ‘the other side’, BN needs to think long and hard about what it can do win them back.”
Are the UMNO leaders and their apparatchits in all fields of national endeavour, particularly in the educational field like Ibrahm Abu Shah, capable of listening and responding to the yearnings and strivings of the Malaysians youths, whether Malays, Chineese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans, for a Malaysian Dream or are they partaking in the dialogue of the deaf?
The Malaysian Dream is not a recent dream. It was the same Dream which was envisioned by the great Johor Malay leader and founding UMNO President Datuk Onn Jaafar in 1951 when he called on UMNO to open its doors to non-Malays and to change the name of UMNO to United Malayans National Organisation.
Datuk Onn Jaafar was too ahead of the times and had to leave UMNO.
Are Dyana, Yasmin and the new generation of Malaysian youths who yearn and strive for a Malaysian Dream in 2014, 63 years after Datuk Onn Jaafar, also still “too ahead of the times”?