Home > News > Nation
Sunday September 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday September 15, 2013 MYT 9:09:28 AM
Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud
Modern young Malays aspiring to be politicians have a wide range of opportunities and wider freedom to choose the party they want to join.
IN the changing political landscape of Malaysia, young Malays aspiring to be politicians have a wider freedom to choose the party they want to join. In short, their decision is based on which party suits their political ideology, as shared by the following up-and-coming figures in Umno, PKR, PAS and DAP.
Noor Azleen Ambros, 28
Spurred by his dream of becoming a successful mechanical engineer, Noor Azleen Ambros opted to study in one of Britain’s top universities.
But a dialogue session with a minister who was visiting England changed the course of his life. Now, instead of pursuing a career as a mechanical engineer, he is carving a future in politics.
Youths like Noor Azleen, who holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Warwick, see local political figures as “role models” who inspire them to consider politics as a career option.
“I was active in the Umno club of Coventry and Warwick in the UK and that gave me opportunities to interact with, debate and engage in dialogues with my current boss, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin (now Johor Mentri Besar).
“I witnessed first-hand his leadership skills like punctuality, assertiveness, dedication and firmness in upholding principles. This was what encouraged me to join Umno and serve as his assistant,” says Azleen.
Now 28, Noor Azleen is a committee member of the Pasir Gudang Umno Youth division as well as a special officer to Mohamed Khaled.
Before this, he had served under Mohamed Khaled when the latter was Higher Education Minister.
The experience helped him to learn how to be an effective leader and activist, Noor Azleen says, adding that the discipline required of him as an engineer is also helping him in his political career.
“I am not only expected to have good foresight but must also be able to balance political demands and individual career needs as a minister’s assistant,” he says.
He particularly admires Khaled’s style of leadership by example.
“He draws a clear line between being political and doing one’s duty as an administrator. For example, he does not allow politics to be discussed in the office. Mohamed Khaled says politics should only be after office hours or outside the office.”
Noor Azleen sees this year’s new Umno election system as one of the party’s many efforts at transforming itself in the hope of becoming more democratic, open and innovative.
“It shows that Umno is a party that’s responsive to change and is ready to provide fresh perspectives to ensure that it fulfils the needs of the current generation and young leaders across all levels. It is also a move to remain more relevant to youths such as me,” he says. - Interview by By ROZAID A. RAHMAN and IWAN SHU-ASWAD SHUAIB
Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, 26
IT’S only too easy to pigeonhole a young, attractive woman in politics as “the hot MP” or “the pretty special officer”. But once you meet Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, even the most chauvinistic of individuals will realise just how wrong they are.
The intelligent, articulate law graduate is swiftly becoming a force to be reckoned with in her capacity as Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary, operating mainly out of Gelang Patah.
She met DAP supremo Kit Siang during DAP functions prior to her joining the party in 2012. During the 13th General Election, she volunteered to work with his campaign team and was pleased with the results.
“I was with a great team. I worked comfortably with them. We worked hard and our strategies worked, thanks to Dr Ong Kian Ming (DAP-Serdang) who gave us tips,” she says.
Her work must have impressed Kit Siang as she was soon offered the post of political secretary.
“He’s very inspiring,” says Dyana. “He doesn’t know what ‘tired’ means. He works hard from early morning to late at night. I am barely keeping up! This is a great opportunity. I am learning a lot and looking forward to learning more.”
In a party that is criticised by detractors for not having a large Malay representation, Dyana shines as she shows this may not be true after all.
“I can tell you that the number of Malay DAP members is on the rise,” she says. “No one is promoted based on their skin colour.
“My fellow DAP members ... I’ve seen the work and sacrifices they’ve had to make to get them where they are, and they are from all races and backgrounds.”
Some quarters have flayed Dyana for joining the opposition, noting that her family has Umno members. But Dyana sees these comments as irrelevant to the big picture.
“My mother worked for Umno Perak when she was barely 20, but the ‘Umno family’ is a figure of speech. My mother is an Umno member, just as many Malay families have Umno members.
“I didn’t choose to ‘join the opposition’, but I chose to join the efforts to bring about a better Malaysia through the doctrinal ideals of social democracy, and to continue to work towards (achieving) the dream of a Malaysian Malaysia (that’s been) fought long and hard for by DAP leaders past and present.”
Her mother, who was the first division secretary for the Umno women’s wing, is her biggest supporter.
“My mother knew about my plans prior to my joining DAP. She was there during the press conference announcing my membership in DAP,” says Dyana, who has picked up a smattering of Chinese since joining the party.
Born in Ipoh, Dyana grew up in Kuala Lumpur, “climbing trees and racing bikes (being the only daughter in the family!),” she recalls.
Instead of bedtime stories, she spent her evenings listening to her uncles and mother discussing current affairs and politics.
Her political awakening was to come much later, however. It was during her university years.
“I was in my first year of law school. I went to a small shop to buy biscuits and I saw my non-Malay schoolmate working there to help the family business,” she relates.
“Here I was, a cocky first-year law student purchasing goods from my schoolmate who did not get the chance to further his studies. I felt bad and lucky at the same time. That was when I started to think ‘What if I had been born a different race in Malaysia?’”
Bright and ambitious, Dyana doesn’t think her race or gender should speak louder than her actions.
“Women’s rights need to be defended but I feel the root of the matter is in upholding equality, fairness, and beating off any form of discrimination, whether it be racism, sexism, ageism – which DAP fights for. I don’t believe one has to be a woman to fight against sexism.”
Above all, she says, she wants to do what’s right. “That’s how I’ll take on that challenge. I live a life my conscience is happy with.” — Interview by TASHNY SUKUMARAN
Akmal Nasir, 27
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin in the United States, Akmal Nasir became interested in politics as a student. This was after he attended a talk by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the US, he says.
During the talk, says Akmal who holds a degree in Actuarial Science, he began to understand the causes being fought by Opposition parties.
“Even though I studied overseas, I fulfilled my responsibilities as a patriotic student. We questioned many things implemented by the government,” he says.
After listening to Anwar’s explanations and views on the political situation in Malaysia, he became interested in the changes pursued by Opposition parties, he adds.
Upon returning to Malaysia in 2009 after completing his studies, Akmal started his first job as a research officer at the Selangor Economic Advisory Office headed by Anwar.
Akmal, who has a second degree in Economics, considers his involvement in NGOs and politics a big achievement. Not many youths are interested in carrying out their social responsibilities, he says.
Apart from Anwar, Akmal also names PKR’s strategic director Mohd Rafizi Ramli as a role model. Akmal is director of the National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW), which was initiated by Rafizi.
When asked if he is ready to be featured as a youth leader in PKR, Akmal says the responsibility will come in due time.
For the time being, he says, he is more comfortable working behind the scenes and focusing on the direction of the NGO that he leads. — Interview by ARIFFUDDIN ISHAK
Mohamad Shah Hasan, 29
A graduate in Business Management from the International Islamic College, Mohamad Shah Hasan says he joined PAS because the party provides ample opportunities for the younger generation to engage directly in politics.
Admitting that no one in his family are PAS members, Mohamad Shah says he first became interested in political developments within PAS a few years ago. He only became an official member last year.
He stresses that it was the personality and leadership of PAS leaders, who are able to maintain a balance between worldly and spiritual demands, that attracted him to join the party.
“Many PAS leaders can be looked upon as icons or idols. The uniqueness of PAS is that it is a party which places importance on both worldly and spiritual affairs in all of their actions.
“My interest in joining PAS was further piqued when I realised that they are now more accepting of young professionals because there is a policy to ‘professionalise’ the party,” Mohamad Shah says, adding that “the changes and receptiveness of PAS in including the younger professional generation has been the main push of the party to remain relevant”.
Mohammad Shah who hails from Kangar, Perlis says that although he is not directly involved in PAS, he has chosen to contribute to the party’s growth through social media. — Interview by ARIFFUDDIN ISHAK
Tags / Keywords:
Politics, Political parties; newcomers
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)