9 Badass Facts About Yeo Bee Yin, The Youngest Female Minister In Tun Mahathir's Cabinet

She'd only joined politics in 2012; look how far she's come!

From Damansara Utama state assemblyperson to MP of Bakri and now, a newly minted Cabinet Minister, Yeo Bee Yin has had a pretty illustrious political career at just 35 years of age

Image via Bernama

Yeo was sworn in as Minister of Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment on Monday, 2 July along with 12 other ministers and 23 deputy ministers into Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad's Cabinet

At 35, that makes Yeo the youngest female minister in the Cabinet.

In addition to being a minister and MP of Bakri, Yeo is also Pakatan Harapan Youth vice chairman and DAP's National Assistant Publicity Secretary. 

Yeo, who only entered politics six years ago when she joined DAP in August 2012, has done some pretty bada** things prior to becoming a Cabinet Minister. Here's a brief look at her background and achievements:

1. She survived two life-threatening incidents in her childhood

Yeo (left) with her sister Bee Hui in a photo taken after recovering from the first incident.

Image via Yeo Bee Yin

In her blog, Yeo revealed that she fell and hit her head when she was a toddler on the sharp edge of a wooden sofa. 

"My entire skull became very soft. I was treated in ICU for many days and hospitalised in the General Hospital (Seremban) for a long time," she wrote. 

A few years later, when she was five, Yeo was hit by a car when she dashed into the road while playing. Luckily for her, the driver was a doctor and quickly attended to her after accident. 

2. An engineer by training, Yeo received a scholarship by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pursue a master's degree in Cambridge University

Yeo with her parents at my master degree graduation in Cambridge University.

Image via Yeo Bee Yin

Also a recipient of the Petronas Scholarship, Yeo graduated from Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) with First Class Honours in Chemical Engineering

After working with Schlumberger for two years, Yeo went on to pursue a Masters in Philosophy in Advanced Chemical Engineering under the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and subsequently graduated with a Commendation.

3. Yeo was elected as state assemblywoman for Damansara Utama when she was 29, making her the youngest member of the Selangor State Assembly from 2013 to 2018

Having just joined DAP as a full-time member in August 2012, the 13th General Election also marked the first time Yeo contested in a political election. She won with 30,689 majority, which was also the highest majority for state seats in Malaysia for GE13.

The 14th General Election would see her moving back to her home state Johor to contest for the Bakri parliamentary seat, which she won with 23,211 majority. It was also the highest majority ever achieved in the history of the Bakri parliamentary constituency.

4. Yeo is one of the key people involved in the first Impian Sarawak project in Kampung Sait, Sarawak

Yeo in Kampung Sait.

Image via Yeo Bee Yin

Parked under DAP's Impian Malaysia movement, the project was initiated to improve lives and provide basic infrastructure such as roads, water, and electricity in rural areas, particularly in Sabah and Sarawak.

In an interview with Free Malaysia Today, Yeo revealed that they did not have any money when they began work on the project.

"We needed to raise funds and get volunteers. That’s how we started our first Impian Sarawak project. We put in funds first, then raised the rest from the public," she said.

Despite skepticism and resistance from some quarters, Yeo managed to raise RM280,000 from her constituents. The initial project cost was only set at RM20,000.

Read more about Impian Malaysia and their work here and here

5. Yeo's office launched the 'No Excuse to Rape' digital campaign alongside the All Women's Action Society (AWAM) in 2015

Image via Yeo Bee Yin

The then state assemblywoman for Damansara Utama said that the campaign aims to break victim-blaming culture in the country and raise awareness about statutory rape, substance-related rape, and marital rape.

6. A true proponent of equal privileges in education, Yeo has initiated free tuition centres for students from low-income families via the Pusat Tuisyen Rakyat programme

Since 2014, Yeo's office has been running two tuition centres offering free classes for students aged between seven to 17 in Damansara Bistari and Kampung Chempaka.

In addition, she organised leadership training camps for university students called LEAP (Leadership, Education, Activism and Politics), which aims to educate students on the political process and activism in Malaysia. 

She also founded the Lawatan Anak Muda (LAM) Programme which allows young participants to visit the Malaysian Parliament and the Selangor State Assembly.

7. In a visit to the White House in 2015, Yeo asked Obama what he thought of democracy in Malaysia in light of Anwar's imprisonment

Yeo had the opportunity to participate in a town hall with Barack Obama under the Young South East Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI), in which she asked the following question to then President of the US, Barack Obama: 

"What is your view on the democracy in Malaysia with the recent jailing of Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader and the crackdown on the oppositions?"

TL;DR - Obama gave a pretty diplomatic answer, though you can listen to his full reply from 13:10 to 17:47 here.

8. Yeo gave the infamous Jamal Yunos a mirror and filed a RM5 million suit against him for defamation after the UMNO leader alleged that she misappropriated funds from the Selangor state government

In March 2017, Sungai Besar UMNO Chief Jamal Mohd Yunos alleged that Yeo misappropriated state funds meant for the Skim Mesra Usia Emas (SMUE). 

In response to the allegations, Yeo showed up at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office where Jamal was expected to lodge a report with a mirror bearing "Nothing to Hide" so it could be presented to the UMNO man. To no one's surprise, Jamal did not show up. 

Yeo subsequently filed a RM5 million defamation suit against Jamal, in which he also failed to appear at the High Court for case management. 

9. She launched a book, Reimagining Malaysia, earlier this year

Image via detik.net.id

In the book, Yeo shares personal stories as well as her insights as a young lawmaker, covering "different aspects of nation-building that are close to my heart", such as institutional reform, education, youth, women, and sustainable development. 

You can read snippets of her book here.

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