On the 23rd of June 2023, the State Assembly officially dissolved. And with that, I end my service as your State Assemblywoman and return the mandate to you to decide who would constitute your next government in the upcoming elections.
Six states will go to the polls – Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu. Elections are likely to take place sometime between the last week of July to mid-August. Having been voted in at 28 years old into the second biggest State seat in Malaysia, this journey was a steep learning curve, to say the least – peppered with far too many highs and lows.
If I were to pick my top three moments as your State Assemblywoman, they will be these:-
A Wedding and a Water Cut
On 21 December 2019, I walked down the aisle to marry the man I now call my husband. It was a joyous occasion – a small affair with friends and family. As I expected to be engaged the entire day, I left my phone with a family member. We made our vows in the morning in a quaint kampung, an outdoor lunch then followed.
The break between the ceremony and lunch allowed me to do a change of clothes. And it was the first time in the entire day that I was able to check my phone.
A Whatsapp group – “AIS – JKP (USJ1-22)” was ringing. (AIS stands for Air Selangor) A community leader reported no water in his housing area. Shortly after, another community leader did the same.
“Oh no, I thought.” I was hoping that it was just a burst pipe – an isolated incident that would recover rather quickly.
But as more and more community leaders reported the same, the situation looked more and more like a water treatment plant shutdown.
And it was.
I was troubled the whole wedding lunch. I whispered to my husband of barely a few hours that I would have to attend to water distribution works after our wedding. Being the trooper that he is, he drove me to USJ4, where the water distribution site was, so that we could monitor setting up and communications.
Subang Jaya at one point suffered at least one water cut a month. It was my duty as State Assemblywoman to push for water sector reforms.
Having been appointed Chairlady of the Select Committee on Water Resource, we identified gaps in the system and proposed 38 recommendations, four of which are being implemented, and which had to date arrested 36 water treatment plant shutdowns. We have:-
- Amended Lembaga Urus Air Selangor Enactment 1999 – up to RM1m fine AND mandatory jail sentence for water pollution
- Increased river surveillance to 24 hours
- Increased river enforcement staff
- Alternative water resource for Sungai Selangor and Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plants by 2024.
Pregnant and Covid-19
It was a Burger King dinner. I know – not the healthiest meal. I ordered a Whopper. But this one smelled different – very VERY onion-y. After the meal, the smell lingered for hours. I was nauseous. I looked at my husband. We knew.
After a few home tests and at the hospital – it was confirmed, we were expecting. This was at the height of Covid. As with most couples, we only told our parents. This is because the first trimester is known to be the most volatile month, anything can happen.
It was also at about this time that Covid-19 broke out in the Angsana, USJ1 flats. Community leaders informed me that people were dying every other night due to breathing difficulties. They wrote in and begged for an Emergency Movement Control Order.
By this time, Covid-19 was at its peak in Malaysia. People were waiting up to 10 hours for an ambulance, only to have it not arrive. Private ambulances were all booked out.
The health system was collapsing.
When I asked the Petaling Health District for an EMCO in Angsana, the officer-in-charge was at the brink of tears. She basically told me that they were stretched, and that they do not have the resources to take care of 8000 people.
I raised this to the Selangor Health Office. They could not do anything. Neither could the Ministry of Health. But surely, we could not leave Angsana as it is. These are lives. They are all precious. And so with that we decided to take things into our own hands.
I asked the State Government for allocation to conduct our own screening. Together with community leaders and volunteers, we would go door to door to convince residents to come down. The morning after the screening, we would prepare a bus to the Shah Alam Covid Assessment Centre to get them tagged and monitored.
It was entirely a community effort, led by my office, whilst I had a 2-month-old baby in my belly. No one knew.
A Suicide Rescue
I remember this case oh-so-vividly. It was 2018, not too long after GE14. It was a Tuesday. We had service night.
I was in the office seeing a resident and saw a call on my phone from the head of Subang Jaya’s Fire Department. I didn’t pick up the call as I was attending to an issue.
But he called again. I knew then that it was urgent. I picked up.
“YB I need your help.”
“You need my help? I am the one who’d usually ask you for help.”
“Yes. It’s urgent. We’re handling an attempted suicide case now and need help with communication in English or Chinese. You’re the only one who we feel the young victim can identify with and who would be calm enough in this situation.”
“But I am not trained.”
“We don’t have a choice.”
I dropped everything and went over. Negotiations took a long time. Three hours, I recalled.
The place was dark and dangerous. Dangerous enough that based on the firemen’s assessment, rescue efforts had a 50-50 chance of success. Those 3 hours was emotional. The person and I talked about issues surrounding family, friends, studies, stress. I tried to convince that person that life is worth living and that this too, shall pass.
We were talking with a wall between us. It was dark. I didn’t know what was going on, on the other side. Suddenly, I heard a thud. The person’s family members squealed. I thought the worst had happened. My heart sank.
Sounds of a scuffle followed after the thud. “Dia okay! Dia okay!” I heard the firemen shout. They were able to save the person. Thank God. But that relief soon swept away. The policemen came by. A police car quickly pulled up. “Dia perlu dibawa ke balai.”
I knew why. Attempted suicide is an offence. But how do you explain that to someone and his/her family members after going through that ordeal? “What does this mean?” The person’s family asked.
“They just need to take your statement.” I said.
“I will make sure that everything is okay.” I added. I didn’t know whether this was a promise I could keep. But I had to, by hook or by crook, ensure that this person is safe. I made sure that the person was not placed in lock-up.
I quickly called a lawyer to be on standby in case charges were brought. And I pleaded with the police to exercise his discretion and mediate the case instead.
“What if the person repeats the act? It will be my fault” said the police.
“Given what the person is going through, I can only hope that the act isn’t repeated in custody. This person needs medical intervention, not prison.” I said.
Upon the parents’ undertaking that they’ll keep a close watch, the case was resolved. But that got me thinking – not everyone who finds themselves in this person’s situation is as lucky.
And so, I began advocating to repeal S.309 of the Penal Code, which criminalises attempted suicide. After 5 long years and four Law Ministers in between, the bill to repeal S.309 finally made its way through Parliament and the Dewan Negara. At the time of writing, it is now only pending Royal Assent and gazettement.
The policies that we pursue at the State and National level are inspired by our work on the ground in Subang Jaya. As an elected representative, grassroot work and policy advocacy are intertwined.
In my five years here, I have done my best and have given my all.
The stories above are only my top three. If you are interested in reading more, I have penned my journey in a book titled “Beneath Calm Waters”, which are going at RM25 each. You can purchase them at my service centre at 113A, Jalan SS14/1.
If you’d like the book delivered to you, you may bank in RM25 for each book to the DAP USJ 6 Account (CIMB Bank – 8010737620) plus a shipping fee per book of RM8 for West Malaysia and RM15 for East Malaysia.
Having done so, do email to [email protected] your
- Transaction slip
- Address and
- Phone number
Thank you, Subang Jaya, for the opportunity to serve. I would also like to take this time to apologise for all mistakes and shortcomings of my team and I. From day one, politics has always been a platform for me to serve – politics is, in fact, to me, the highest form a service. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming State Elections, my heart for Malaysia remains – I believe in its potential, that its people deserve the best, and that only the best should lead them. Subang Jaya, it is now in your hands.