by Mariam Mohtar
May 26, 2014
Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, the DAP candidate for the Teluk Intan by-election is the opposition coalition’s secret weapon. She rocketed to fame like the rocket logo of her party, the Democratic Action Party (DAP). Dyana does not conform to the narrow, twisted and prejudiced view of the Umno Baru world. Unlike her, the modus operandi of Umno Baru Youth is to issue threats and create violence. Dyana engages the rakyat, using her brain and her rhetoric.
To some, especially those from Umno Baru, Dyana is everything that they are not. To others, Dyana represents the new Malaysia, someone who knows what she wants, who speaks her mind, who is ready to accept a challenge and who is not afraid of fulfilling her dreams, through fair and just means. Dyana represents the pulse of modern Malaysia.
When Dyana attracted the ire of veteran political figures like Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and former PM Mahathir Mohamad, there can be only one logical conclusion – Dyana is on a winning streak. Umno Baru is afraid.
The emergence of Dyana signals a major shift in Malaysian politics. Umno Baru supporters with their siege-like mentality, will soon realise that they have been duped and their potential stunted by Umno Baru policies. Malay support for Umno Baru will wane. The party will disintegrate.
For years, the Malays were considered the privileged lot and envied by the other races. As a result of the affirmative action policies, and the educational opportunities given to every Malay child, Malays are expected to be blindly loyal to the government and by extension, Umno Baru.
Malays must obey without question. They become zombies. If they see an unjust act, they must hold their tongues. If they hear of racism or religious persecutions (non-Islam) against non-Malays and non-Muslims, Malays must keep quiet.
All that changed for Dyana, when she said, enough is enough and joined the DAP; “I chose DAP. For its principle of multi-culturalism. For its principle of standing up for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion. For its principle of doing what is right, despite the risks and repercussions.”
Dyana is young, while most of those in Umno Baru are long past their sell-by date. She is articulate, whereas the majority of Umno Baru politicians and their supporters, communicate using threats, thuggery and acts of vandalism.
Dyana aims to get rid of racial politics, whilst all in Umno Baru are aware that their survival depends on dividing the rakyat with race and religion. Having graduated as a lawyer from a local university, she started work as a political secretary, before entering politics. Many Umno Baru supporters and politicians survive on patronage and a lifestyle funded by exploiting the taxpayers’ money.
Brought up by a mother, Yammy Samat (right), whose own life has been shaped by Umno and Umno Baru politics, Dyana has seen her mother struggle with treachery and betrayal by her own Umno and Umno Baru party members.
Choosing to confront Umno Baru
One would expect Dyana to steer clear of politics. Instead, she has chosen to confront Umno Baru and all the aspersions which they want to throw at her. Her career path is not for the faint-hearted. Within hours of her nomination, she has already experienced criticisms and sexist attacks designed to tarnish her reputation.
Dyana joins the long list of confident Malay women who do not need a tudung to show they are both religious and Muslim. They are equally comfortable in a baju kurung or modern attire. Although she is a product of a local university, and not educated in the west, Dyana is articulate in both English and Malay.
Dyana has been criticised because her head is not covered. They say she is too liberal and that she is not pious. Would they say the same of Mahathir’s wife, Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali or his daughter, Marina, who are not tudung clad?
For decades, the tudung has been used as a political and social device to control Malay women. To wear a tudung increased the chances of being accepted in an institution. For some, it was a means of getting promoted.
Inside sources claim that Umno Baru would suggest that women who refused to wear the tudung were not devout Muslims. Are Malays that easily deceived by the evil machinations of a political party? Umno Baru is trying to suggest that women should wear tudung to become more religious. Just like Shahrizat, who showed the nation that she is a pious Muslim, with her handling of the scandal which has become known as ‘Cowgate’.
What of Dyana’s rival in Teluk Intan? Mah Siew Keong (left) belongs to the Gerakan party. If only Mah had the courage to lead his party away from the crippling embrace of Umno Baru. Gerakan was once a formidable and respectable party but now, all attention is on Dyana.
It really does not matter if Dyana wins or loses, because she has set a precedent and raised the bar in politics. She is one of many young Malaysians who are prepared to challenge the racist and divisive policies of Umno Baru. Her finger is firmly on the pulse of modern Malaysia. That is why 27-year-old Dyana Sofya is the most dangerous woman in Malaysia.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).