The New Dawn

Po­lit­i­cal pow­er­houses NU­RUL IZ­ZAH AN­WAR and HAN­NAH YEOH join forces again for a par­tic­u­larly pa­tri­otic dis­cus­sion with KATH­LYN D’SOUZA, on the vic­tory that changed Malaysia, and their thoughts plus plans for the fu­ture of the na­tion

Malaysia Tatler - - AUGUST - Pho­tog­ra­phy KIM MUN / HOPSCOTCH PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Styling AN­DREA KEE, as­sisted by LOH JO YEE Art Di­rec­tion LIEW CHIAW CHING

At the cusp of a new po­lit­i­cal land­scape, two dy­namic politi­cians dis­cuss their hopes for Malaysia’s fu­ture

ONCE UPON A TIME (SIX DECADES AGO, TO BE PRE­CISE) NO­BODY WITHIN AN EARSHOT WOULD HAVE THOUGHT A DAY WOULD COME WHEN THE IM­POS­SI­BLE BE­CAME POS­SI­BLE— RE­LAT­ING TO NONE OTHER THAN THE RE­SULTS OF THE 14TH GEN­ERAL ELEC­TIONS ON MAY 9, 2018, WHEREIN MALAYSIA AS WE KNEW IT, WAS GIVEN THE OP­POR­TU­NITY TO TURN OVER A NEW LEAF. FIGHT­ING THE GOOD FIGHT WAS NO LONGER A LOST CAUSE. THIS WAS A CHANCE FOR CHANGE.

Two politi­cians walk into a room. Two strong proponents and lead­ers who prompted the change in our po­lit­i­cal scene this year. Two dif­fer­ent peo­ple, but with one cru­cial thing in com­mon: the love for their na­tion and peo­ple. You may think, our dear read­ers, that just about any­body can say that; you and I can, the way we did when the elec­tions were loom­ing early this year. But, wait un­til you meet these two in per­son, then get them talk­ing about their poli­cies as well as plans—and no­tice the fire in their eyes, a flurry of im­pas­sioned ex­pres­sions of the what is and what will be. The un­think­able to the fea­si­ble. And most im­por­tant of all, their hopes and dreams for this coun­try in light of our In­de­pen­dence Day. Did for­mer lawyer-slash-events man­ager turned Deputy Min­is­ter for Women, Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment think she could make this far? “No,” Han­nah Yeoh re­sponds, smil­ing pen­sively, “But then May the 9th changed Malaysia, be­cause in 2008 and 2013, although we won at the state level, a lot of peo­ple thought it was im­pos­si­ble to bring change to Pu­tra­jaya, that it was too dif­fi­cult to dis­lodge a gov­ern­ment that has been rul­ing for six decades, so they think Malaysia would never change ei­ther.” But when the re­sults were an­nounced on that fate­ful day, it was a given that Malaysia would never think the same way again—there will be no hur­dle that this na­tion would deem too big for it. Now that the power is at hand, she ac­knowl­edges that the mind­set of how prob­lems are tack­led has to change as well. “Peo­ple still tell us that some of the re­forms that we want to do, can­not be done. But we just have to be care­ful; that is their de­fault set­ting, and we must never fall to that.” Her plans do make for some ma­jor chal­lenges ahead, but Han­nah isn’t a quit­ter—es­pe­cially not af­ter 10 years. She elab­o­rates, “When I first chose to join pol­i­tics, peo­ple dis­cour­aged me be­cause they have not seen, up to that point, a per­son who has gone in clean to fight cor­rup­tion and come out un­cor­rupted and un­tainted.” That, and the flurry of ad­vice which she con­sid­ers to be ‘wrong’, like those that tie to re­li­gion. She is of­ten told by fa­nat­ics and those deal­ing with fa­nati­cism, to ‘leave your re­li­gion out of this’. Han­nah begs to dif­fer, cit­ing her re­li­gion as the rock that keeps her clean. “I know peo­ple can’t see what I do in pri­vate, but there is a God who does,” she di­vulges. “But I’m also very mind­ful that I should never, ever im­pose my be­lief sys­tems or faith to another per­son. We have a fed­eral con­sti­tu­tion that guar­an­tees the right to wor­ship which­ever way you want, and I think we all should re­spect that.” Speak­ing of clean, the ‘new’ Malaysia (postMay 9), af­ter we changed gov­ern­ment for the first time, has been deemed as ‘a breath of fresh, newer air’ to most, if not all, Malaysians. Will that re­ally leave a mark on Malaysia as a na­tion? For the long­est time, many peo­ple felt re­strained, but it took (rel­a­tively) one day for all to make a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion. “That vic­tory will for­ever re­de­fine us. Malaysia will never say it is ‘im­pos­si­ble’—we will never say that any feat looks too huge now,” Han­nah says, her pride shin­ing through.

“That vic­tory will for­ever re­de­fine us. Malaysia will never say it is ‘im­pos­si­ble’—we will never say that any feat looks too huge now” - Han­nah Yeoh

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