Don’t ignore identity politics but learn to move past it, says DAP rep

Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim speaks during the ‘Sembang Kopi’ event in Shah Alam May 2, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim speaks during the ‘Sembang Kopi’ event in Shah Alam May 2, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

SHAH ALAM, May 2 — Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim said tonight that Malaysia cannot ignore identity politics but must learn to move past it.

The DAP Bukit Mertajam MP said the government must continue to engage with the people, especially the Malays as they have been institutionalised by Barisan Nasional (BN) to see themselves as the sole defenders of Muslim and Malay rights in Malaysia.

“We must continue to talk and discuss race, religion and the nation’s governance, if not certain parties will monopolise the narrative and influence the news in a bad way,” Sim told a group of 20 people who gathered at a cafe in Shah Alam for a santai session on politics and DAP.

“Politicians and parties who take the middle road will cause the people to feel afraid as sensitive issues such as religion and race are neglected.

“In New Malaysia, people aren’t too concerned with materialistic gains; hence, the government’s challenges aren’t merely to make them happy with a full stomach but to win over hearts and minds.”

Sim and DAP is making a concerted effort to meet people and educate them on the party and tell them that it represents all races.

He said the problem is the general perception has it that DAP is a party for non-Malays.

Sim said DAP has and will always adhere to the Constitution which protects the Malays but feels Malaysians should try and move past this in the future.

In order to do that, he said the party must start by educating and changing the minds of government servants.

“The former ruling government created a machinery that’s hard for people to differentiate. When they think government, they think BN,” said Sim.

Sim explained how in the 10 months since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took office, one of the biggest struggles has been to change government servants’ perception.

He said many government employees are still loyal to BN as in the past, their career trajectory was dependent on their loyalty to BN.

“Many complain about PH not doing a good job, but this is normal when you’re trying to fix things,” he said.

“We forget that we need to factor the government servants into our campaigns, as changing and implementing policies is not in the politicians’ hands, but up to the government machinery.

“DAP was Opposition for 52 years and has only been 10 months in governance so when facing these public workers, there is always going to be awkwardness.

“However, we feel all government servants must be neutral,” Sim said and called for the dismantling of external bodies engaged by the previous Barisan Nasional government to perform the duties that should be undertaken by the civil service.

* Editor's note: In an earlier version, Steven Sim was mistakenly credited with proposing to establish an “Elite Internal Unit”, which has since been corrected. Malay Mail apologises for the error.

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