Cites experience and qualifications make her the best DA for Queens residents
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Over a few plates of bam-i (a Philippine noodle dish made of canton and bihon that originated in Cebu) and fresh lumpia, Mina Malik talks of her family as a bi-racial daughter seeking to hold office at Queen’s District Attorney.
She is the first Filipina running for District Attorney in NY’s biggest borough that is also the world’s most racially diverse in population. Queens is home to some 2.4 million people, mostly people of color. The DA office, has been traditionally held by the white male, hence this election is important, she said.
Malik’s mom is from Batangas, a retired nurse and Roman Catholic, her father, a Muslim from Pakistan. She grew up in Elmhurst having to feel different because of the color of her skin.
And what did you become because of that union?, I asked, in an interview at Tito Rad’s on Queens Boulevard.
“I had to deal with a lot of discrimination. In fact, I experienced being assaulted and was hospitalized for a month when I was in high school. It turned out that I became more Catholic. Well, that’s because of mom,” she recalled, while enjoying the bam-i. An only child, she was born in London and her parents moved to New York when she was an infant and grew up in Queens. In her lifetime, travels to the Philippines and Pakistan have meant great memories to meet with huge clan of cousins, uncles and aunties.
It is her first time to run for public office, which she races against six others. What sets you apart from the other candidates?
“I have the experience and the qualification,” she quickly replied. “I am the only one with credentials for this position, having been a prosecutor myself. Experience matters,” she asserted.
Malik mentioned her two decades of work as prosecutor and defense lawyer at the Brooklyn DA and Attorney General’s Office, and as executive director of the civilian Review Complaints Board as her major qualifications. She finished Law and taught at Harvard University. For her, “prosecutorial experience is absolutely essential” to become Queens DA. In fact, she said, “it should be a prerequisite.”
The Democratic Primary on June 25 will see a race among Malik, Melinda Katz, who is Queens Borough President, City Council Member Rory Lancman, former State Supreme Court Justice Greg Lasak, public defender Tiffany Cabán, Betty Lugo, a former Nassau County assistant district attorney, and Jose Nieves, formerly deputy chief in the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit at the Office of the New York State Attorney General.
The election will replace the late DA Richard Brown who had held office for 30 years. The DA is the chief prosecutor of a local or state government and may be elected at large or appointed by the chief executive.
Malik said she will do a massive review of past convictions through a Conviction Review Unit, and put additional language access through interpreters to ensure due process for the accused. She said that in her watch, she will focus on serious crimes and not cooperate with the ICE in its arrest campaign of undocumented immigrants at the court houses.
Malik also stressed that she will go after sex trade operators, pimps, and users instead of criminalizing prostituted persons. “I recognize the injustices in the system. And as true reformer and proven leader, I am restoring fundamental fairness,” she said.