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
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