Zaid: ‘Gutter politics’ in Teluk Intan puts Malaysia in Indonesia’s shade

DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud with BN candidate Mah Siew Keong on nomination day, Teluk Intan, May 19, 2014. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim says the personal attacks against DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud exposes the violent political culture dominating Malaysia.  — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud with BN candidate Mah Siew Keong on nomination day, Teluk Intan, May 19, 2014. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim says the personal attacks against DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud exposes the violent political culture dominating Malaysia. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — Umno’s personal attacks against DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud despite the party’s claims of upholding Islam exposes the violent political culture dominating Malaysia, said Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Comparing the tone in Teluk Intan with Indonesia’s recent presidential election, the former Cabinet minister noted that campaigning in the neighbouring country remained civil despite the much higher stakes.

I n the minor Malaysian by-election, however, Zaid pointed out that Dyana Sofya has come in for all manner of personal attacks from rival Umno, who have labelled her a traitor to the party, a sell-out to her people, and a puppet of the DAP, among others.

“To put it simply, Indonesia has progressed in many ways in their quest to build a nation with values all Indonesians share as a people — but in Malaysia, the Malays seem to be going backwards.

“Perhaps the great success of the New Economic Policy (NEP) has somehow made Malays ‘different’,” Zaid wrote on his blog yesterday.

The NEP is the technically-defunct race-based affirmative action that created a system of preferential treatment for the Bumiputera in jobs, housing and access to government funding.

The former Kota Baru MP also condemned Umno’s leaders for failing to restrain the party’s followers from engaging in the “virulent” attacks against the political secretary to DAP national adviser Lim Kit Siang, pointing out that this ran counter to the party’s professed embrace of Islamic values.

Dyana Sofya’s political choices are her own, Zaid argued, and do not make her a race traitor simply for not joining the Malay nationalist party to which her family has links to.

He also urged the Chinese voters to look beyond racial lines when examining their choice between Dyana Sofya and Gerakan’s Datuk Mah Siew Keong, saying that their vote should go to the Malay candidate if they believe she will be a good lawmaker.

“The idea that only a leader from your own ethnic background can serve you well is a lie — you just have to look at real democracies to know this.”

Aside from the criticism from Umno, the DAP candidate is also the target of an Internet smear campaign purportedly by pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) bloggers.

These include a photograph of a Filipino actress in a bikini that was then claimed to be of Dyana Sofya, and picture of her together with president of Malay rights group Perkasa, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, which was used to suggest her affiliation with his movement.

Dyana will face Gerakan president Mah in a straight fight for Teluk Intan.

Mah won the Teluk Intan seat in 1999 and 2004, but lost to DAP’s M. Manogaran in 2008 with a 1,470-vote majority.

DAP’s Seah Leong Peng had defeated Mah in 2013 with a 7,313 majority before succumbing to advanced bladder cancer on May 1, this year.

The voter base in Teluk Intan is 42 per cent Chinese, 38 per cent Malay and 19 per cent Indian, making a total of 60,349 registered voters.

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