KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — The DAP should target urban Malays as the party had better chances gaining voter support there, says its latest Malay recruit Zairil Khir Johari.
Zairil, the son for the late Tan Sri Mohd Khir Johari, joined the DAP three months ago and made his first public appearance at the recent Pakatan Rakyat (PR) convention where he was a guest speaker alongside PKR’s Rafizi Ramli and PAS Youth chief Nasruddin Tantawi.
Zairil said Umno’s attacks against the DAP through its mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia had “unfortunately” worked in making Malays, especially rural Malays, think that the DAP was anti-Malay.
“I think in such a scenario we have to be realistic. I don’t think we can wholesale go around and try to recruit Malays… that would be a bit difficult. We can show them we are a multi-racial party through our policies so that we can be acceptable especially to urban, middle-class Malays.
“Rural Malays should not be our target. In general the DAP is an urban-based party. DAP should concentrate more on urban constituencies, urban Malays,” Zairil told The Malaysian Insider.
The young politician pointed out that Utusan’s various accusations against the DAP, claiming that the Penang government led by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng gave out money to Muslims from “illegal revenue” and painting Lim as anti-Malay, had worked in Umno’s favour.
“These attacks have been lies, irresponsible. Malays living in Kuala Lumpur have been asking me whether Guan Eng is anti-Malay. Unfortunately, it has been very effective in affecting how Malays perceive the DAP.
“I have not seen anyone more sincere than Lim who is trying to help the Malays in Penang. The sad thing is if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth,” said Zairil.
He admitted that PR lacked the means to disseminate information, saying that the DAP as well as PAS and PKR needed to do more to reach out to target constituencies.
“The fear that the DAP is a Chinese-based party trying to take over Malay rights is pure nonsense. DAP strongly upholds the constitution, including Articles 151 and 152.
“DAP is also secular in so far as our constitution is secular. We uphold Islam as the official religion, even special privileges of Malays are guaranteed by the DAP. So what is the fear?” he said.
Zairil believed that there were many Malays who were genuinely interested in joining the DAP, but faced pressures against doing so from various parties as the anti-Malay perception when viewing the DAP is still prevalent.
“The day my story came out that I had joined DAP, an Indian-Muslim friend told me he had joined DAP, and was ostracised by his family because they were staunch Umno supporters.
“There are a lot of Malays who want to be a part of DAP, I know this. They are afraid of the implications, which is why they are not stepping forward,” said Zairil.
The secular DAP has been facing relentless attacks from Utusan Malaysia since the last general election, where the newspaper has consistently portrayed the DAP as “racist” and “anti-Malay.”
The paper has featured articles penned by columnists who have claimed that the predominantly Chinese party wanted to abolish the Malay sultanate system to create a republic.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang has called Utusan’s claims a “lie”, and stressed that his party has always been committed to upholding the Federal Constitution, which provides for a constitutional monarchy system.