Jamaliah Jamaluddin has always been known as the granddaughter of Shamsiah Fakeh, the veteran leader of Communist Party of Malaya.
When it was announced that Jamaliah was to stand as DAP candidate in the 14th General Elections, there were questions over her communist ancestry and if she was an ‘appropriate’ candidate.
We need restore institutions and freedom of speech - for both the rakyat and local media
But Jamaliah’s 34,769 vote majority win in the Bandar Utama seat suggests that voters did not think her ancestry as an issue.
“There are a few issues that are close to my heart. We need restore institutions and freedom of speech - for both the rakyat and local media,” says Jamaliah on her hopes for Malaysia Baharu.
“We also need improve the quality of education and empower young people,” she adds.
The 29-year-old’s foray into politics began through volunteering at DAP. She was later appointed as special aide to Damansara Utama assemblyman YeO Bee Yin.
(Damansara Utama seat was renamed Bandar Utama after redelineation in 2018. Yeo was moved to the Bakri parliamentary seat)
“Towards the end of 2015, she asked if I was interested to become a party council member. I agreed and soon became more active in politics.”
Jamaliah’s interest in politics and current issues began during her teenage years, partly triggered by her father, Jamaluddin Ibrahim, who was a radio DJ and an avid columnist.
“He was often invited to speak at forums. I tagged along, reluctantly at first,” Jamaliah says.
“But over time, I found the forums to be very interesting as debates were not common on TV. It was then I started thinking more critically,” she adds.
The self-confessed introvert, who is of mixed-parentage, was troubled by politicians stoking racial sentiments in Malaysia and she wanted effect change.
“My father is Malay, my mother is Chinese. I see myself as Anak Malaysia. I didn’t like how racial issues were played up. I knew I had to get involved if I wanted the country to change for the better,” says Jamaliah.
“I am thrilled that that new government is paying attention to issues and policies affecting the rakyat, regardless of race. I trust that if we stay on this path, Malaysia will have a bright future.