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!


Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

May the best person be chosen for the best job
Regardless of sex, race, colour or creed
Afterall we all want the right person to fit the need
Let rational wise people make the choice and not just any emotional mob

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 240808
Sun. 24th Aug. 2008.

Anonymous said...

Tony or anybody in DAP,

Answer me this, why would a Malay join DAP when there is PKR ?

Ie what better value can u add to a Malay by offering him DAP vs PKR?

NEO said...

Can YB breakly explain your strategy to increase the circulation of "Rocket" in near to medium term?

Any target has been set? 30%?, 50%? or 100%?

Are "Rocket" looking for strategy partnership with other organisatios?

Anonymous said...

"But make no mistake about it, it's one uphill task!"

I think it may have been easier prior to 308 - now you always have to answer the awkward question "why DAP instead of PKR" and mind you, PKR people are well aware of this ;-) And so every now and then you see on the blogosphere (and even on Facebook) some DAP ppl "politely" pointing out whenever PKR makes a mistake, hahaha...

Production of Roket is a good start, but how is distribution going? I used to get so irritated whenever I took a bus from Puduraya... that's Bukit Bintang, DAP stronghold, and yet it's so easy to pick up a copy of Harakah or Suara Keadilan but The Rocket is nowhere to be seen.

Just give it to the news stands for free la... I think that is a better use of money than a new party HQ. Do we really need a new party HQ? Will we set it up in Tropicana as well?

Anonymous said...

DAP has portrayed as a Chinese-dominant political party. Attracting Malays to join the party is definitely a huge challenge albeit not totally impossible. I have many Malay friends who have preferred PKR over DAP for reasons known by all of us.

DAP leaders should understand that Malays' extreme sensitivity on their religion. There PR coalition is still giving many people the impression of its "marriage of convenience". Efforts should be made among leaders of PKR, DAP and PAS, each must refrain from issuing statements which are detrimental in fostering unity. Until then efforts to recruit Malays to join as members will prove futile.

Besides that, DAP should also consider attracting more intellectuals to share their ideals.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:31am, by joining DAP you will be in better company, and you get something that PKR can never give you... by joining DAP you get to be in the party that has the right to say "we told you so right from the start didn't we!" ;-)

Anon 10:27am, not all Malays will be comfortable with DAP, I think only liberal-minded Malays who understand the value of secularism should consider DAP.

Bentoh said...

right-thinking or left-thinking? :P

Anonymous said...

Why DAP and not PKR?

DAP = Socialist or pro-left wing

PKR = Liberal Democrate or neutral wing.

PAS = Conservative or Fundamentalist (right wing)

UMNO = F**kin racist bigoted neo-facist a*r3hol3 party

MCA = Servant/slave subservient right wing party

MIC = same as UMNO but like MCA

Gerakan = who? Dis party still exist meh?


P/S: So instead of race base, it is better to have political party based on ideology.

WY said...

Dear Tony,

If I may suggest:

1) Hire/recruit some populist malay figures, politicians or non-politicians wise. Don't let principles and stubbornness blind side the party. Malay culture requires strong "Hero" culture. Someone like Tengku Razaleigh would be a good catch. Or Rocky bru, the blogger, some professors in local uni. etc.

2) Considering merging or absorbing smaller parties with similar goals..e.g. PPP? Eastern Malaysians parties? PSM?

3) target recruitment/effort at university leavers and professional bodies (doctors, engineers, academics).

4) DAP oversea clubs, targetting young malaysians that are opened/receptive to the C-A-T sort of environment.

5) Seriously consider, at CEC level, how to accept the fact that DAP's ideal secularism is inclusive of muslim philosophies and rule/law (syaria) evne. instead of bickering of what's constitutional, think about concrete legal and constitutional actiosn required to create an ideal situation, where both PAS and DAP are happy.

6) send CEC members and DAP members in general on cultural exchange classes . to understand the malay culture, and sentiment. Know your 'customer' well and you can sell them flying cows, and they ll buy.

7) DAP branches are few and far in between. consider agressive expansion (despite the CEC's call for selective membership).

8) differentiation marketing. What is DAP? Chinese chauvinistic pigs or Malaysia for Malaysians. Propose affirmative action plan, rather than simply opposing NEP.

well, politics will remain politics. I will remain an idealist. Good luck swimming with the sharks of DAP.

Anonymous said...


You are elected into CEC because we need 2nd and 3rd generation of DAP leaders. The time of being in Opposition can be consider as past and DAP needs to move forward as part of State and Federal Government. In short, DAP nedds new visionary leaders. Also in order for DAP to proper forward, DAP needs to cater the needs or to dispel the fears of Malays. Have more news media and communications in Malays afterall the olg guards needs to see that Malay language is part of Malaysian daily life. Also recruit more middle class Malays that reside in PJ/Subang Jaya, Puching and Serdang.

Hope you can get DAP to propel into the next election.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I respectfully DISagree with *most* of what wykam suggested - specifically points 1,2,4,5,6,and 7 :P

But then I have been accused of being that thing that wykam said we should not be, so I reckon this is one of those things best sorted out by having leaders clearly adopt either the more exclusive approach or the more inclusive approach, then fight it out for party leadership and let the delegates/grassroots decide the direction of the party.

points 3 and 8 are very good though, especially point 8, which I think needs to be cleverly done vis-a-vis the "why DAP instead of PKR" question in the back of everyone's mind.

The standard answer used to be "PKR is a mess, they are so disorganised, they can't mobilise grassroots to win elections"... well they have the opposition leadership now, so that argument doesn't work anymore! A new polite anti-PKR argument is needed ;-)

I joined DAP 4 years ago because I value it's history, but that's not a very pragmatic reason, most people want an answer that looks to the future, and a party that derives it's support from a shrinking demographic generally does not have a great future! But to expand support base at the expense of the solid historical track record... I don't know about that. Would Tunku Aziz have joined us if we were anything other than the "prudes" that one blogger affectionately accuses us of being? And FYI at the moment Tunku is the DAP leader I trust the most other than Karpal because only those two have been FIRM and CLEAR on lompat parti! TONY I AM STILL WAITING FOR YOU TO CLARIFY!!!!

If anything, I think DAP needs to be more thick skinned about approaching people whom it would like to have in the party. Tunku Aziz says he had been targetting DAP for 20 years. In that time did anyone invite him to join DAP? Sometimes the other party wants to be more than friends but feels a bit too shy to make the move ;-)

Speaking of which, what's Tun Salleh Abas up to these days? I know he used to be in PAS, but he's certainly not active. I suppose he has earned his rest now, but why not a sort of "honorary" position like Dr. Chen has?

I would have suggested Haris Ibrahim as well, but that was before he flew the flag in distress, I think that was stupid.

Other obvious examples are Azly Rahman and Farish Noor; as academics they may wish to remain neutral, but that's their decision to make, ours is to let them know that our door is open.

Anonymous said...


I asked Haris Ibrahim whether he is interested in joining DAP. Below is his answer :-

A true Malaysian,

If I was minded to get into mainstream party politics, DAP is the only party for me.

Yet, at this time, I feel that I am of greater use to civil society on the outside.