PETALING JAYA: Being a young woman is never an easy thing in politics, as DAPâ€™s Dyana Sofya has quickly learned.
The 27-year-old DAP starlet has turned into quite the media darling with her quick and fiery reactions to current issues. She even drew in a stream of admirers from the public and press alike with her down-to-earth and friendly demeanour.
Although she commands her own legion of supporters, the political secretary for Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang has nevertheless become a favourite target for dirty tactics and sexist remarks – which culminated and peaked during her run for the Teluk Intan seat in May in which she eventually lost to Gerakan veteran Datuk Mah Siew Keong by a slim margin.
In fact, Dyanaâ€™s signature barely had time to dry on her party application form when she received her first taste of derision.
â€œWhen I first joined DAP – it was announced in early 2012 right before Chinese New Year – I had already faced the backlash. I was called a â€˜pengkhianat bangsaâ€™ (traitor of the race), ungratefulâ€¦ things like that.
When I became (Lim Kit Siangâ€™s) political secretary, it happened again so I knew that when I was fielded as a candidate, the wave would triple or even quadruple so I was prepared.â€
The moment Dyanaâ€™s named was announced as candidate, a frenzy erupted. Here was a smart, young, beautiful girl that everyone wanted to know more about. Many were curious, many were impressed, but a few opportunists ere out to cripple the budding politician before she could establish herself.
In the days before and during campaigning various attempts to discredit Dyana surfaced on the internet.
The first, a bikini-clad photo emerged, supposedly of Dyana. It was later discovered that image was actually that of a Filipina actress.
In another bad attempt to diminish her growing popularity, Dyanaâ€™s photo with her three-legged kitten Calico was photoshopped to show her embracing a puppy.
â€œThe first time I was targeted, a few nights before the announcement of my candidacy, I was alone in Johor. Some person – I donâ€™t know who it was – created a Twitter account offering sexual services and published my number in the advert!â€ she said.
â€œAfter that, I received hundreds of Whatsapp messages and even some photos which I did not want to see. Even at three in the morning – I received messages and calls. But I didnâ€™t cry at all. For the whole two weeks, I just laughed it off,â€ she said.
A strong support system and a strong presence of mind is what helps her maintain composure in the press of negativity, said Dyana.
â€œWhenever I got attacked or whenever an issue arone, (Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng or Lim Kit Siang would call me. They would ask,
â€œDyana, are you OK? Do you need anything?â€ I was just a regular member then, not even a political secretary but they called and emailed me – even (Seputeh MP) Teresa Kok who is our â€˜big sisterâ€™,â€ she said.
â€œThey always call and give moral support and encouragement. Thatâ€™s one of the reasons I know I was in the right party.â€-The Star