Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Right candidates for the picking in Malaysian election fights

Fine, young candidates for the picking -They may be greenhorns in this general election but two winsome contenders have caught our aunty’s interest with their winning ways.


BY now, we know it’s a very crowded field of GE13 candidates. But in the end, what really matters to me is who is vying for my vote in my kawasan.

So I checked the list and from the lot, two first-timers, both women, piqued my interest.

First off is Chew Hoong Ling, who is pitted against Tony Pua, the incumbent in the Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary seat.

Chew shot to fame when she donated part of her liver to a stranger, a 13-year-old girl suffering from liver cancer, four years ago.

Chew’s amazingly selfless act earned her much admiration. That much I knew about her but little else.

So when her candidacy in my constituency was announced, I decided to find out more.

I couldn’t quite remember what she looked like so I checked out her pictures online.

At 33, she is young and quite tele­genic – important since the world is full of phone cameras.

According to news reports, Chew was born in Kuala Lumpur and she holds a BSc (Hons) degree in information systems from a UK university.

From her blog, I further learned she is a professional emcee and social entrepreneur.

She also describes herself as a property investor, author, radio deejay and former RTM1 presenter.

So she has the gift of the gab, a talent an effective politician should have. Not only that, she is fluent in English, Malay and Mandarin.

But what will she talk about? More importantly, will she talk sense?

Again, I am encouraged by her range of interests that seems rooted in genuine passion. Her support for organ donation, for example, started when she was a teenager.

She is also interested in single mothers because she met such people while helping out at her mother’s reflexology centre.

She wants to promote skills training for school leavers because she saw how her cousins struggled to find work after they dropped out.

She also appears to be a good neighbour and serves as the secretary of the Section 21, Petaling Jaya Rukun Tetangga.

If these are her causes, I will therefore expect her to speak knowledgeably on them. I hope she will focus on what she believes are important for us in her constituency and for the rest of the country. I want to see if she can convince me she will fight for those beliefs in Parliament.

What intrigues me is Chew is a BN candidate but she also took part in Bersih 3.0 because she says she believes in free and fair elections.

Do I detect a streak of independence in this feisty young woman? That would be something I appre­ciate in my MP.

Next is Yeo Bee Yin, the DAP candidate for the Kampung Tunku state assembly seat. She’s 30 and from Segamat, Johor.

This young lady has impressive academic credentials. As she tells it in her blog, after her secondary school education (SMJK Seg Hwa), she studied Chemical Engineering in Universiti Teknologi Petronas under a Petronas scholarship.

She topped her class, graduating with first class honours in 2006.

Yeo got a job with an international oil and gas company which sent her to work as a field engineer in Turkmenistan.

She made such good money that she was able to pay off her Petronas 10-year bond in just a few months.

But it was a six-month internship in Germany when she was still an undergraduate that started her political awakening.

“Before coming to Germany, as a top student, I thought I knew a lot. After I came here, I realised how little I knew about the world. I began to question why in Malaysia … we (have not) been taught to think critically and objectively,” she writes.

But, caught up with her high-paying job, she says, “Life was great, I worked hard, played hard ... I became terribly self-centred”.

Then came March 8, 2008, and “when I opened The Star Online and saw the news on the political tsunami, I realised how I still loved and cared about my country.”

That was the moment she decided she wanted to contribute and not view her country as an outsider.

Still, coming home had to wait as she had won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to do her Masters in Advanced Chemical Engineering at Cambridge University – a life-long dream.

At 29, she returned home to take up politics, much to her mother’s dismay. And what does she want to achieve?

“I hope that … Malaysia can be a land of opportunities and equality for our children … a land where, no matter how big and what your dreams are, they can be fulfilled here.”

She also says she is passionate about issues related to the environment and sustainability, young people, women and family.

So now I have before me two fine young women from opposing sides who are after my vote.

I like that. I like the fact that there are strong, intelligent, highly educated and motivated young people who are entering politics because they are passionate about their country. I like it because with such candidates, it means we voters have real choices to make this GE13.

So Aunty, So What? By JUNE H.L.WONG

It’s ceramah time! The writer plans to attend as many as possible with her first-time voter daughters and hopes the weather will cooperate. Feedback welcome: email junewong@thestar.com.my

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