Malaysians in their own unique way contributed to the effort to build a Malaysia Baru resulting in the unimaginable GE14 result.
One of them is Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin who only two years ago put her Cambridge-educated credentials to save the nation. She was tethering on the verge of despair and hopelessness that the political and economic direction the country was heading was only one way – spiralling downwards! So she wrote a book
Yeo’s journey to ‘Reimagining Malaysia’
I wrote this book two years ago, when we were still the opposition. Everything we did seems to be failing and there seemed to be no hope. At that time, I wanted to give up.
But I was reminded of the times when I was little, I had a dream. What am I going to do when everything is possible? That was when I started writing my book.
I had another dream, a dream for Malaysia. I wrote the book to motivate myself and for young people who are interested in politics.
‘Reimagining Malaysia’ is a simple book that they can read to know what is important in Malaysia and if we want to rebuild Malaysia, what are the aspects that we can look into.
"I really want to see stronger check and balance in Malaysia,” says the newly-minted Bakri Member of Parliament.
“I really want to see that there is nobody too powerful in Malaysia. Even when you are a Prime Minister, you should be checked by different agencies, by the legislative, by the judiciaries.”
It is in Yeo’s nature, as a chemical engineer by training, to search for solutions with an eye on precision and wants to ensure that there is always a check and balance in the administration and running of this country.
“I really want to see again, separation of powers happening in Malaysia,” says Yeo. “So that is the first thing I really want to champion as Member of Parliament,” she adds.
In an interview with Astro AWANI, the master’s degree holder from University of Cambridge says the next item that she wishes to check off her three-part `to-do’ list in revolutionising Malaysia is the education system.
Growing up in Batu Anam, Segamat where rubber and palm oil estates dominate, the recipient of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship for her post-graduate studies strongly believes that education has changed her life and it is an issue that is close to her heart.
“I want to see the people of the same background as me or the people in the deepest jungle in Malaysia, or even the urban poor, to have an equal education, an equal opportunity to have good education.”
“I also want to see people with talents to be able to be picked up by our education system and make them flourish, instead of making them as robots.”
“I really want to see our next generation flourish through a reform education system,” says Yeo.
I really want to see that there is nobody too powerful in Malaysia. Even when you are a Prime Minister, you should be checked by different agencies, by the legislative, by the judiciaries.
Yeo won the Bandar Utama (previously known as Damansara Utama) seat, which she contested on the DAP ticket in the 2013GE. She won with the biggest majority of 30,689 for a state seat in the country during the 2013 general election made a bold move to return and contest in her home state of Johor.
Despite moving out of her comfort zone to contest in Bakri in the recent GE14, Yeo emerged victorious with a 23,211-vote majority, increasing her predecessor’s majority four-fold.
Although she proudly serves people of the northern Johor seat now, her heart is still very much with Selangor and its water woes.
“I think Klang Valley will still have the problems because, like what I have written in my book (Reimagining Malaysia) you cannot solve a problem when there’s no infrastructure.”
“So we are building water treatment plant. The water treatment plant is only going to be done end of this year in 2018. We have a new water treatment plant coming up and by the mid of next year, we have another one that is going to be accomplished.”
“Now that we have a Federal Government, we will have more funding to make our infrastructure better. Do we solve the problem immediately, no. Like what I wrote in my book, we will only have a more comfortable water reserve margin by end of 2019,” Yeo adds.
An assemblyperson or a parliamentarian, politicians are the voice of the people
I vividly recall a conversation I had with Tony Pua when I was an assemblywoman. I told him I am interested in national issues but as a state seat representative, I can’t speak about national policies. To which he replied, “No. When we are assemblymen, we are chosen by voters to be the voice of the people. Be it assemblymen or parliamentarians, we must be their voice”.
So for me, I won’t say there is a transition period. When I was an assemblywoman, I made sure my voice is heard when it comes to nasional issues. From state seat representative to an MP, I am used to being the voice of the ‘rakyat’. As MPs, we also have to speak for the people when it comes to state issues as well as the local council (PBT).
The Bakri constituency, with 73,883 registered voters, is made up of 44 percent Malay voters where else in Damansara Utama, it was only 11 percent. Yeo makes it her mission of ensuring the voice of every race is heard.
As the representative of the people, we must be the voice of the people. It doesn’t matter if we are Chinese or Malay, we have to speak up. For instance, the MP in Damansara, he has to speak for us.
In order for me to be a representative of the people, I have to speak effectively and I have to be one with the people. I need to know what are their aspirations. Make frequent visits, no rituals or protocols. Just getting close to the people. That is what’s important to me.
Be it an assemblyman or MP, put your foot on the ground. We have to remember, we are voted by the people to serve them and to be their voice.