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Malaysia: The new faces in Malaysian Politics, YB LIM Yi Wei

The KCL Malaysian Society invited YB LIM YI Wei to a Q&A session at King's College London, on the 15th January 2020.

From a local Ipoh girl to YB, the life of one of the new faces of Malaysian Politics: YB Lim Yi Wei

YB Lim Yi Wei and her team were invited to the UK as part of a week exchange program between the UK and Malaysia called the International Young Leaders program, funded by the British High commission in Malaysia.

Arriving into politics

YB Lim Yi Wei was elected member of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly for N35 Kampung Tunku in 2018.

Born in Ipoh, she followed the traditional educational path, that consisted in getting good grades, good university and a good job. She entered Hong Kong University of Science and technology, graduated and became a Conference Producer.

The event that triggered her political instinct is the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. The strong implication of Joshua Wong then 18-years-old, in the politics of his country, made her ask a crucial question, “What am I doing?”. At that moment she was not happy with the outcome of the 2013 General Elections in Malaysia when the BN (Barisan Nasional) won.

After that, she left Hong Kong to join the DAP (the Democratic Action Party) in February 2016 and became YB Tony Pua’s Political secretary. She identified with the values that the DAP portrayed which were centred on social democracy, solidarity, equality and freedom.

It was her first step into Malay politics, “To be in politics you need a role that is close to the ground” was an advice given to her when she was offered a role as Councillor.

The year 2018 was the period when the long reign of the BN party over Malay politics came to an end, it lost the parliament to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) an opposition party. Mahathir Mohamad was then appointed as the Prime Minister of Malaysia. That same year YB Lim Yi Wei won the election of Kampung Tunku as a State assembly member. She believed that “For Malaysia to change its course, it has to change government” which was what happened that year.

The main topics she focuses on

She is currently working on four main aspects of social life that need improving, which are, Youth and Social Empowerment, Women Empowerment, Mental Health and the Promotion of Local Culture and History. We shall discuss in more depth some of these topics.

YB and her team organised a Youth Forum entitled: “Young, Dumb, Broke”, like the pop singer Khalid’s hit song. By using social media platforms to entice the young population, YB Lim Yi Wei proves to be a new kind of modern politician.Currently in Malaysia, youth unemployment rates are very high, this is due to the fact that there are a lot of overqualified graduates but not enough advanced jobs for them. The government is trying to turn around this tendency to reduce unemployment rates for 2020. She strongly adds “I don’t want you (the youth) to be tokens in decision making bodies” but for them to have a voice in decision making policies. The second topic that she is concerned with is the Empowerment of Women. She has put in place workshops to allow women with low income to develop skills in order to be more attractive to potential employers.

Finally, Mental Health, she believes that it should be treated as physical health and that medical facilities should be more centred on this issue. The health systems must evolve and offer durable treatments to patients in need.

Her challenges

As a politician, she has come across various challenges, the most important one is the lack of understanding by the population concerning Malaysian politics. Since the abolition of local government election by the Barisan National government from 1969, people have become distant and see the MP as the saviour of their local problems. People don’t know where to go when they need help, in the past the Malaysian government had a lack of influence and did not promote the role of the local government. Educating the population has become a focus that she is working on. The lack of understanding of political hierarchy by Malaysians is another challenge of the YB. To illustrate this, she used the example of a man who voted for her in the last election, and who received a parking ticket for having parked in a forbidden spot. He came to see the YB and asked her to cancel his ticket, when she said that she couldn’t he replied, “Why do I bother voting for you if you can’t solve my problems”. This demonstrates the misunderstanding that lies between the candidate and the voters.

Her advice to future Malaysian politicians

To future Malays who wants to get into Politics in Malaysia, she advises them to be organized, mentally and physically prepared to face the hardships of the job. She also ironically says “You have to love Malaysians for who they are” but also warns “I cannot guarantee you happiness”.

Natalia Vasnier, Undergraduate King's College London


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