September 19th, 2009 by Press Office
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Ibrahim Salleh, a school security guard, proudly displayed his new red DAP membership card which he obtained last week.
Ibrahim Salleh, member of DAP cawangan Kampung Lembah Kinrara
He is among 50 Malays from Kampung Lembah Kinrara in Selangor to join the Chinese-based opposition party, forming the state’s first Malay-led branch.
“I have no problem with DAP being led by Chinese. I believe this can bring change to the Malay community,” he told The Straits Times.
There are already four Malay DAP branches in Perak and membership has risen to about 200 after last year’s polls.
Kinrara state assemblywoman Teresa Kok is determined to set up at least three more Malay branches by the end of the year.
Ibrahim, a father of five, believes the DAP will help the Malays to progress, as the democratic party strives for equal opportunity for all.
He pointed out that although Barisan Nasional talked about protecting the Malays and giving them special rights, it was only those in Umno who benefited in the end.
To him, the DAP is a multi-racial party that respects the rights and religions of other races.
“I believe in DAP now. People used to tell Malays that if DAP takes over, we cannot even have azan (call for prayers) but that is not true,” he said.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is pleased with the development, said: “This shows that DAP has been accepted by the Malays, just like the Chinese and the Indians who accepted PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.” He believes that DAP’s recruitment of Malay members will strengthen his Pakatan Rakyat alliance.
The DAP’s success in drawing Malays is significant for the party, which is generally seen by Malays as stridently championing Chinese interests such as Chinese schools, and fighting for issues like the right to sell alcohol and pork in public places.
The DAP’s motto, Malaysian Malaysia, and its socialist roots have also turned off many Malays who see it as a sidelining of the Malay agenda, and promoting a secular culture.
But the party broke through a psychological barrier when Malays voted for it in droves in last year’s general election after they were disillusioned with Umno.
Political analyst Agus Yusoff of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said: “Malays used to stay away from DAP but they have changed because it is a different political scenario now.”
The party also received a boost when the well-respected former Transparency International Malaysia president Tunku Abdul Aziz submitted his membership form last year and is now a party vice-president.
For a long time, the only well-known Malay name in DAP was MP Ahmad Nor, who was its vice-president until his death in 2003.
Umno leaders had criticised the new Malay grassroots leaders of DAP as “politically lost” and “ungrateful”.
Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan told Berita Harian that the DAP wanted to attract Malays only to advance its narrow political agenda that will eventually be detrimental to the Malays.
“We ask the Malays not to be taken in by the DAP’s tricks; it’s just to give the DAP a positive image,” he said.
But Haron Wahab, 56, who helped to set up the Kampung Lembah Kinrara branch, disagreed.
“My friends and I are not lost or ungrateful. We want to support DAP because Kok has been helpful to us,” he said. — The Straits Times
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