Text and interview by Averlyn Lim
On this balmy afternoon, Bukit Bendera MP (Member of Parliament) Zairil Khir Johari and lawyer Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud look nothing like a couple that has been facing haters commenting on their relationship, waiting to be interviewed by #TeamCLEO. Instead, the political power couple are seated comfortably on a grey couch by the pool and are very much at ease as they laugh, banter and finish each other’s sentences.
Being in the public eye (Dyana was once the political secretary to DAP MP Lim Kit Siang), both have had their fair share of scrutiny. But despite the rumours that surround their relationship, the two have brushed it off and remain grounded (no doubt thanks to their amazing support system at home).
While we could not get them to comment on whether both of them would be running in the upcoming elections (it’s still being finalised), the happy newly-engaged couple opened up and shared their first impressions of each other, how they silence haters, what feminism means to them and what it takes to create change.
How did both of you meet, and what was your first impressions of each other?
Zairil (Z): I was recruiting young members (in 2011) and someone had given me her contact, a young law graduate who was interested in becoming politically active. I contacted her and invited her to join a programme we were having. We only got to know each other a bit more when she was appointed as the political secretary for Kit Siang. She came across as a brave person, as it was always difficult for DAP to recruit Malays, but she was one of the first to come on board, despite having a very UMNO family background.
Dyana (D): Aaaah, my first impression of Zairil! First, I Google-d him before I met him. (She bursts out laughing here) That’s what you do, these days! Well, I thought he was very young to be climbing up the political ladder, and it was something I wanted to learn as well. I sort of looked at him as a role model – someone I could learn from if I wanted to be politically active.
What was it about the other person that made you fall in love with them?
Z: Hmm, well. (He lets out a nervous giggle). I like that she’s very independent and strong-willed – I like that she has very strong opinions on things, but that we have many things in common too. We obviously have the same work interest and we like to read, share and discuss things together. I think it’s really good to have somebody with the same interests that you can talk to every day.
D: I can’t just name one – there are a lot of things that made me fall in love with him. He’s very determined and focused, but if I had to pick one thing, it would be that he is very supportive. Whatever I want to do or achieve, he’s always there.
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