KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — DAP can no longer afford to ignore efforts by rivals to portray it as anti-Islam and Malay after a recent survey found the campaign to be gaining traction, said Lim Kit Siang.
The DAP parliamentary leader also took the lead today by touting his party’s multi-racial and multi-religious credentials and efforts, such as the fielding of Malay, Kadazan, and soon, Dayak candidates in elections despite being painted as a Chinese party.
Lim also cited the case of his son, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who had been imprisoned for taking up the cause of a Malay girl against a politician in Malacca, pointing out that no Malay leader had gone through such tribulations for the minor.
“The IDE study that Umno-PAS attacks have been successful in fuelling anti-DAP sentiments among Malays is therefore a salutary wake-up call to all DAP leaders and members, and even supporters, of the need to take these demonisation campaigns seriously,” he said in a statement today.
Despite his concerns over the Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) study, however, the Gelang Patah MP said there were also positive findings that DAP could use as inspiration on how to reverse the negative perceptions.
Citing the cases on Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming and Subang assemblyman Hannah Yeoh from the IDE study, Lim said it was demonstrated that concerted outreach efforts and information campaigns could be effective in countering the negative portrayal be rivals.
Results of the IDE survey showed that DAP was viewed as anti-Malay and Islam, particularly by members of the Malay community in rural areas where they party is traditionally weakest and rivals Umno and PAS, strongest.
Over two thirds of respondents also considered DAP to be a racist party that was concerned only about the interests of the Chinese community.
According to the IDE, efforts to vilify DAP accelerated following the breakup of the Pakatan Rakyat pact, with former ally PAS adding its efforts to Umno’s in attacking the secular party using religious issues.