Dian Lee, the daughter of property tycoon Lee Kim Yew, has been a recent high-profile addition to MUDA, the newly-formed youth-based political party that seeks to be significantly different from the old guards.
This involvement of a member of a well-connected tycoon family has sparked a debate on social media, where MUDA has a strong following, on whether it is a boon or bane for a party seeking to break from the past.
Others, however, argued that Lee (above) should be judged by her deeds rather than the family she is born into.
The debate was enough to prompt a response from MUDA Secretary-General Amira Aisya Abd Aziz, who defended Lee.
“With all due respect, I often praise those who are capable in MUDA, regardless of their backgrounds.
“Dian, Dr Thanussha, Afiqah Zulkifli, Beatrice Chin, Cikgu Ayu and so many more capable women are in MUDA. I’m proud to stand alongside them,” Amira said.
This was after a netizen accused MUDA of only highlighting Lee due to her family background.
Lee has been speculated as a potential MUDA candidate in the Johor state election.
Hi maam.— amiraaisya (@_amiraaisya) February 9, 2022
With all due respect, I often praise those who are capable in MUDA regardless of their backgrounds.
Dian, Dr Thanussha, Afiqah Zulkifli, Beatrice Chin, Cikgu Ayu and so many more capable women in MUDA.
I’m proud to stand alongside them 💪🏼 https://t.co/I18PeJGZZb
Critics raised concerns on whether MUDA will become too elitist and asked if it will be able to empathise with the working class and stand up for them when it came to issues such as minimum wage and progressive taxation.
The literal daughter of the tycoon who founded Seri Kembangan’s The Mines, for Christ’s sake.— Izzy Mai Sa Bee (@TehlohSuwi) February 8, 2022
So MUDA’s critics have always been right that the party is well-funded with tycoon money. https://t.co/HQ50BOs4ql
Muda has absolutely no idea how many youths they’re going to end up permanently alienating before they ever even run their first major campaign, by being forever tainted as yet another party of developers’ interests. Muda sudah mula, I suppose. https://t.co/wwrB5oi9iS— Amirul Ruslan (@amirulruslan) February 9, 2022
MUDA is a breath of fresh air in Malaysia politics. hope they do well in PRN/PRU. https://t.co/6D41cpTpY7— MY (@Muhmad_dean) February 9, 2022
Dian is one of the most hardworking person I’ve met.— amiraaisya (@_amiraaisya) February 9, 2022
I’m so glad to have her onboard with us.
Many are judging Dian based on her background. I truly invite you to minum minum with Dian.
You’ll never meet someone more genuine and humble.
A true Malaysian 💕 https://t.co/0jBCpI544F
On the flip side, other netizens argued that it was premature to judge Lee.
They pointed out that Lee, like other MUDA members, has done much grassroots work and should only be called out if she does indeed engage in cronyism.
idk about y’all but this whole Dian Lee kerfuffle seems a bit premature.— Antitheist, Esq. (@demoiselledian) February 9, 2022
We’ve seen her doing grassroots work in the signature Muda style, that’s pretty much it. Can’t really accuse someone of potential cronyism.
Plenty opportunity for that later, if it happens.
I am neutral on this.— |an Babe™️ (@f15teen15) February 9, 2022
Why so many of you triggered by Dian Lee joining MUDA/politics?
Is there a rule that states rich people cannot join politics?
Lee, in an interview with The Star, had maintained that her family won’t be roped in to fund MUDA.
“My father and my circle of friends won’t be asked to donate. We plan to use crowd-funding because we believe the people will support our cause,” she was quoted as saying.
The mother of three acknowledged that she was nervous about getting involved in active politics, but she supports MUDA’s offer of new perspectives and faces.
MUDA counts youths from a diverse background in its leadership, including doctors, engineers, lawyers, and activists.
While most political parties have their own youth wings, they are still subjected to the direction of their central leadership, made up of much older persons, and some count grandfathers and even great grandfathers among them.
MUDA sees a relatively young leadership line-up calling the shots instead of being a mere wing.
The party is set to formally launch tomorrow after a lengthy court battle that ended in their favour. The Home Ministry previously refused to register the party.
MUDA will make its debut in the Johor polls. The snap polls coincide with the implementation of the new voting age of 18, down from 21, and also the automatic voter registration system.
However, race-based and patronage politics remain deeply entrenched among the electorate and MUDA faces an uphill battle to overcome a decades-long political culture.