NAME: Wong May Ing
AGE: 34 Years
EDUCATION: Diploma in Chinese Studies, New Era College
POSITION: National Women Assistant Organising Secretary, Perak DAP women state secretary and DAPSY deputy chairperson
It isn’t often that one gets call to duty for one’s hometown. Wide-travelled and experienced DAP campaigner Wong May Ing, a former journalist by profession, return home to take up the challenge and won the Pantai Remis state seat in Perak in the last general elections.
As someone who spend formative years in this fishing backwaters of Perak, she now bears the responsibility to fight and address the issues that her constituents and hometown folks faces. She tells us part of her campaigning experience and what she would be pushing for in this term. Report by Roketkini’s Hafiz Zainuddin. Translated by T.K Tan.
Can you briefly describe about yourself?
I started my career as a reporter with the Oriental Daily in the Manjung area from 2003 to 2005. I subsequently moved on to become a reporter and later as an editor for the Rocket (Chinese edition) beginning from 2005. In 2008 after the GE, I took a direct role by becoming a party worker.
How did the transition from a reporter to a politician took place?
Initially I had no interest or inclination to be a politician. Well, I could trace my interest in politics to the Reformasi era in 1998-1998. I was studying in the New Era College in Kuala Lumpur then.
It’s one thing to be interested in politics and quite another thing to become a politician. But somehow one thing led to another
When I took on the reporter job, all I thought of was to work for the rice bowl. However, in my line of reporting and I became more exposed to the current affairs and political issues of the day, my interest in politics was piqued. As I entered the Rocket, I could observed firsthand the fighting spirit and tenacity shown by DAP leaders in spite of the disappointing results that DAP registered GE after GE. They held on to their principles and fought unceasingly for all Malaysians.
I joined DAP in 2008. Some of the DAP leaders that inspired to join the party were Teresa Kok (Seputeh MP) and Liew Chin Tong (Kluang MP). Teresa told me, that its good to be party member but if I hesitate, its ok. I decided to heed her suggestion
After that I was appointed as the DAP national women organisation secretary. I had also served as political secretary Dato Ngeh Koo Ham (Beruas MP) from 2008 to February 2013. I had also had a stint as the chief executive for Perak DAP headquarters.
I was also involved in helping several by-elections from 2008 to 2011 and the Sarawak state elections in 2006 and 2011.
Do you think politics is dirty?
Many in the past seem to think so; but politics is not dirty. The dirty part comes from some of the political fraternity. The fact, politics is important. As more people understand the political system and process, they will be empowered knowledgeably and able to help others.
Malaysia’s political system is a parliamentary democracy, where the people decide who runs the government. In other words, the society and politics is interconnected as when many policies are decided by the government, it affects the daily livelihood for all of us.
We see that the youth are now interested in politics and generally support Pakatan Rakyat. What are the reasons for that support?
For the youth, the main issues are the pressures of life and corruption. As an example for those who live in the towns and cities. Once we leave our houses for work, we have to beat the traffic jams as having a private vehicle is a must due to bad public transport. Then we are confronted with the tolls like in the Klang valley.
All these incurred costs and time wasted. Many of the informed youth knows it’s due to corruption and corruption is now a big issue to them. They know who is involved in these corruption and abuse of power cases and what are the parties offering to the people.
The fact is, corruption has caused many prices of necessity goods to increase, economic mismanagement and other governance issues.
What are your views about women participation in politics?
I am for women taking an active role in politics. It will be more advantageous for women. Personally, I think it would help me as it would build up our self-confidence and it is a positive challenge for me. The Malaysian society need to think out of the box and shed the past shackles, regardless of race.
For so long the womenfolk have been told from young that however smart they are or how much they study, they will eventually have to settle down, get married and have children. So there is no need to invest in them too much, goes the thinking.
The situation has now changed. Both men and women play an important role in developing and building the nation.
If women are not involved in politics, we will only have male leaders. It is likely that many issues that concerned women will not be heard or addressed. We have to admit that women understand the womenfolk issues better than men.
As an ADUN Pantai Remis, what would your main agenda be? How are the reception by constituents towards DAP?
In Pantai Remis, we will immediately look to replace the current DAP service centre to that of DAP community centre. It’s function will broadened. We now have calligraphy class and a small library. Hopefully in the future we will be organising computer, Bahasa Malaysia and English classes for whoever are interested. Its in the discussion phase.
In addition the most important task on hand is to provide a good service for the constituents. I planned to have more community-related activities such as visitation to constituents’ area.
As for support, I believed the GE result is a good indication. DAP’s votes increased drastically. In 2008 GE DAP won with 5,000 plus majority; this time around we registered a thumping 9,471 majority. It’s also because more young people are coming back home to vote as well.
As for the Pantai Remis’ constituents receptivity, it’s generally been okay. In the town area, the Chinese has overwhelmingly supported DAP. As for the Malays and Indians areas, we have received an increased support from these constituents as well especially those who are PR supporters. It’s heartening to note that the Malay support has increased.
What of your experience in the GE campaign? Was it roses all the way?
There were some who didn’t reciprocate with us when we met and approached them in the markets or homes. What was interesting for us was when we distributed leaflets and pamphlets in the Malay villages, the reception was very good. In a few of the Malay warungs we visited, we often heard shouts of “Ini kalilah”! (laughs)
This time around many of the women also joined in our political programs such as ceramahs. This is unlike in the past. Many more came to our operation centre and offered to help out. I was very touched by their support. It would seems political awareness in the community has increased.
What about BN’s campaign?
They (BN) spent much of their focus in the Indian community. There were a lot of feast parties and gifts. In the Chinese areas, they spend much time visiting the temples, giving cash donations. For BN, ceramahs are not their forte; often times even if they organise any ceramah, the turnout would be poor. So in order to overcome the lack of audience, they organised many parties, feting the people.
Amongst the Chinese, BN played the racial issues often. They would tell the Chinese that a vote for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) means erosion of Chinese rights and power. Correspondingly the same sentiment was played up amongst the Malays in reverse. Racial issues were and still are their main campaign weapon.
The fact is racial issues are no longer relevant as nowadays people have access to information. For example, when the BERSIH and People Uprising Gathering (Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat) rallies were held, all the races were present, especially for the young people. The youth have not concern for racial issues.
In the past there were limited or no access to alternative information. What are important for them are good policies for all. This is the thinking of young people.
Last words for readers?
For me what is important is justice. Whatever our culture or religion may be, justice and fairness covers all groups and classes of society. In order to achieve a just society, we need a fair and just system. Anyone who is in need should be helped. This is important as with justice, our society can live in harmony, united and comfortably. This is why DAP emphasises on social justice, which is a part of social democracy that guarantees justice for all. -The Rocket