KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 ― After joining DAP in 2017, Kota Baru-born Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has been appointed today as chairman of the party’s Kelantan chapter.

Zaid confirmed the news to Malay Mail in a brief text message, when asked about the outcome of a DAP meeting earlier today.

“This afternoon, 16 branches in Kelantan decided to elect me pro tem chairman,” Zaid told Malay Mail, referring to “pro tempore” that means “for the time being”.

“I have decided to help DAP explain to the Malays who are fearful and distrusting of the party, that DAP is not racist, extremist or anti-Islam.”

While he views this as a daunting task in a state whose politics has long been dominated by PAS and Umno, Zaid said he believes that Malays are open-minded and are willing to listen.

“They have not been given a fair picture of the party for so long,” the former Kota Baru MP added, referring to DAP.

DAP has been among the fastest-growing parties in the state administered by Islamist party PAS since Pakatan Harapan won the 14th general election.

In November, then state chairman Chua Chin Hui said DAP plans to contest three “potentially winnable” state constituency seats in the next general election: Kota Lama in the Kota Baru parliamentary constituency, and Galas and Guchil, both of which are under the Gua Musang parliamentary constituency.

Zaid said he also wishes to help the Pakatan Harapan coalition be more confident of itself to make the changes and reforms they promised in 2018.

“The country is being torn apart by the extremists and I feel I have to face them where possible. There is no other way,” he said.

When asked if he considers this as being a bridge for DAP in Kelantan, Zaid said he views himself as a bridge to Malays who are willing to listen about politics in the country.

Under Umno, Zaid was the law minister during the administration of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2008, but he resigned from the post the same year as a protest against a spate of arrests under the Internal Security Act 1960, resulting in suspension from the ruling party.

The year after, Zaid joined PKR, and then contested the Hulu Selangor by-election in 2010. He lost to Barisan Nasional’s Datuk P. Kamalanathan, now deputy education minister.

He quit PKR later that year after pulling out of a race for the party’s deputy president post and formed Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air (Kita).