Source: Malay Mail
Many young people harbour negative perceptions towards politics. They consider politics disgusting, shallow, and full of power-crazy leaders.
This current perception is worlds apart from what we experienced as children, when we did not even consider skin colour or race back then.
However, in the midst of all the disappointment and anger often unleashed by young people on social media, there is still one optimistic individual who wants to see politics from a different perspective. In fact, she has been trying to change negative perceptions that have been lingering for a long time.
Marina Ibrahim, 33 and Kluang-born, sees politics as a way for her to serve the community.
She is actively involved in community activities in her local area. One of them is the ‘Give a Smile’ program that is now entering its fifth year.
Through this program, helping the less fortunate comes very naturally to Marina, giving them a little cheer as they and their families prepare to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
To some extent, her friendliness and warmth towards people from all walks of life have been shaped by her mother’s life in the estate. Her mother taught her the meaning of tolerance in a society with mixed cultures and traditions.
“My mother was a single mother and she grew up in an estate. It was there that we could see Malays, Indians, and Chinese all living in harmony,” she said in an interview with Roketkini.
Her experience in mingling with friends from different races also influences the activities she carries out in her local area.
“Many of my activities include children, where Malay, Indian, and Chinese children learn about the history of their respective festivals. For example, there are activities that teach them how to make lanterns.
“I also organize Jawi writing classes and drawing classes amongst the different races because I believe that we will eventually change our perceptions or suspicions towards other races through activities like these,” she said.
She said that such activities would build a spirit of unity amongst the races, while tearing down narrow-minded and racist mentalities that have been holding nation-building hostage.
In addition, she also makes the best use of social media platforms to spread the news about past or current programs. To her, social media is the best place to approach young people.
“I think social media plays a very big role in changing public perception towards politics, towards social welfare activities, and so on,” she said.
“DAP is a democratic, fair, and caring party,” she emphasized when asked about why she chose DAP as a vehicle for change.
Because DAP is a multi-racial party,” she added.
“I notice that the gap of understanding between the races is increasingly widening. Even though it may not be on a big scale, I feel that I can still do something. I believe that if something is done little by little, it will be successful over time.”
Ever since Marina has been known as “Melayu dalam DAP”, she has had to face many criticisms and challenges. However, she has set all of that aside as her mother’s blessings triumph over everything.
“My own mother encouraged me to join (DAP) and her advice was ‘if we feel that what we are doing is right, don’t pay heed to what other people say.”
“And I believe that for as long as I have been in DAP, all these rumours about the party aren’t actually true,” she stated.
Marina also left some advice for young people who are still trapped in the false narrative propagated against DAP by their opponents.
“To the young people who are afraid of joining DAP, thinking that it’s supposedly a communist party or Chinese party, come to me or to any of my friends in DAP and we will help you get to know DAP.
You’ll be able to see for yourself, because there are times when the stories we hear on social media or from certain parties are exaggerated stories.
We can do community activities together and from there, we can assess for ourselves whether or not these accusations against DAP are true or not,” she asserted.
Learn from senior leaders
Marina admits that she once had DAP’s monthly newspaper thrown at her by local residents. However, that incident did not break her spirit.
“Some of them did not like it, some of them even spat. But before this when I worked with YB Teo Nie Ching (MP for Kulai), I saw how she faced the situation. She remained calm,” she said.
Apart from Nie Ching, she also learnt a lot about politics and activism from Wong Shu Qi, MP for Kluang.
In fact, she said that Shu Qi was one of the first DAP leaders who invited her to join the party.
“I was approached by YB Wong Shu Qi and I took two to three months to decide if a political platform was the best platform.
For me, it was a little difficult to carry out community activities especially if I was doing it on my own. So when I joined DAP, I worked together a lot with the parliamentary office as well as the ADUN office to carry out all sorts of activities.”