After joining DAP in 2017, Kota Baru-born Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has been appointed as chairman of the party’s Kelantan chapter.
The appointment was decided unanimously in a meeting yesterday which also appointed 16 other pro-tem committee members.
This was announced in a ceremony to hand over a cheque to several organisations at Dewan Besar Tok Kong Mek in Kampung Cina, Kota Bharu.
Zaid said the formation of a pro-tem committee was a step to strengthen the party’s position in getting closer to the people in Kelantan.
“We are of the opinion that DAP should give explanations to better answer accusations from other political parties such as this party is a Chinese party, it’s racist, it’s communist.
“That does not benefit anyone, and instead will damage us,” he said to reporters.
“I have decided to help DAP explain to the Malays who are fearful and distrusting of the party, that DAP is not racist, extremist or anti-Islam.”
While he views this as a daunting task in a state whose politics has long been dominated by PAS and Umno, Zaid said he believes that Malays are open-minded and are willing to listen.
“They have not been given a fair picture of the party for so long,” the former Kota Baru MP added, referring to DAP.
Zaid, who is a lawyer by profession, was previously the law minister for a few months during the administration of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2008 and was once a member of Umno. He resigned from the post the same year as a protest against a spate of arrests under the Internal Security Act 1960, resulting in suspension from the ruling party.
The year after, Zaid joined PKR, and then contested the Hulu Selangor by-election in 2010. He lost to Barisan Nasional’s Datuk P Kamalanathan, now deputy education minister.
He quit PKR later that year after pulling out of a race for the party’s deputy president post and formed Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air (Kita).
According to DAP’s communications organisation coordinator for Kelantan and Terengganu Lee Chin Chen, the party does not have a state committee in the two east coast states.
The party can only form a state committee now following a big increase of members in Kelantan after the 2018 general elections.
DAP has been among the fastest-growing parties in the state administered by Islamist party PAS since Pakatan Harapan won the 14th general election.
Lee said the pro-tem committee will be handling the matter of setting up an official state leadership in Kelantan.
In November, then state chairman Chua Chin Hui said DAP plans to contest three “potentially winnable” state constituency seats in the next general election: Kota Lama in the Kota Baru parliamentary constituency, and Galas and Guchil, both of which are under the Gua Musang parliamentary constituency.
Zaid said he also wishes to help the Pakatan Harapan coalition be more confident of itself to make the changes and reforms they promised in 2018.
“The country is being torn apart by the extremists and I feel I have to face them where possible. There is no other way,” he said.
When asked if he considers this as being a bridge for DAP in Kelantan, Zaid said he views himself as a bridge to Malays who are willing to listen about politics in the country.