Sunday, August 24, 2008

On Publicity & Recruiting Malays

I've been elected as the new National Publicity Secretary for DAP and I certainly hope to do a good job over the next 3 years. The Malaysian Insider spoke to me about DAP's publicity machinery and I credited the bulk of our success to changes in the mechanism by which messages are delivered - with formerly alternative media becoming the "mainstream" media, as well as the major role civil society played in it.
DAP's "stock" might have skyrocketed since the March 8 polls but new publicity secretary Tony Pua acknowledges that it was the public that poured in their own resources to make it happen.

"As much as we would like to take credit for it, credit actually goes to people outside the party," said 36-year-old Pua, who has previously been editor of the English edition of Rocket, the party newsletter.

"We can never match the resources of civil society, the NGOs, the bloggers and electronic media. But what we can do is to tap into this potential to bring out the message," he told The Malaysian Insider after being appointed into his new role at the 15th DAP National Congress.

At the same time, one of the most onerous task in my hands as the publicity chief is to project DAP as a party for all Malaysians i.e., all races and religions. In particular, it has been highlighted ad nauseam both here on this blog and at our party congress that we need more Malay members and produce more Malay leaders. Much work is needed, and all efforts must be made to ensure its success.

But I can tell you right now, it's much easier said (and criticised) than done. It is the role of everyone who believes in the principles the party adheres to, to play their individual roles to increase the intake of Malays into the party. While the leaders can say all the right things, and produce all the right publicity materials ("Roket" has been in production over the past 2 months) but it will have to be the grassroots and supporters to convert open-minded and right-thinking Malays into members. Otherwise, all efforts made will be in vain.

The Malaysian Insider also interviewed some of our existing Malay members, Sdr Ahmad Ton, an elected central executive committee member as well as an outspoken Hj Azahari Ismail from Bukit Bintang on their views on attracting Malays.
Despite only Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim holding office in the newly-formed top leadership, Malays in DAP seem unperturbed and determined to increase their numbers. For them, it is not that the party has shunned Malays but the other way around.

"We have very few Malays who are professionals. In the end, the democratic process in the party has resulted in the makeup of our central executive committee. Besides Ahmad Ton and Tunku Aziz, who else is there to appoint?" said Azhari Ismail, a 57-year-old delegate from Bukit Bintang Baru at the party's 15th National Congress.
Let's hope by the next party elections, we will see a fair few more Malay members participating in the Party's organisation and activities. But make no mistake about it, it's one uphill task!
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