My Story

Hi everyone! Here's a little story about myself.

My name is Yeo Bee Yin or 杨美盈 in Chinese.

Born on 26 May 1983, I grew up in a small town called Batu Anam in the northern part of Johor (Segamat district). Below are two childhood pictures of mine.

My parents told me that I survived two life-threatening incidences when I was young. The first one was when I was still a toddler, of which I fell and hit my head on a 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. The picture below was probably taken after I've had recovered. I am on the left (looking like a boy!) while on the right is my elder sister, Bee Hui.

The second life-threatening incident was when I was five, a car hit me as I dashed into the road while playing. Luckily, the driver was a doctor. He immediately attended to me. Here's the photo that was taken around the age I had the accident.

Anyway, jeng jeng jeng, I survived my childhood! :-)

Actually before moving to the "town" in Batu Anam when I was around 10 years old, I stayed in a palm oil plantation estate called Gomali Estate. My mom was a clerk there for Dunlop and later IOI when it bought over Dunlop she retired in 2007. She was a hardworking and honest worker; something I admired as a child and want to continue now as an adult.

This is the picture of the place we stayed in Gomali Estate. I took the picture during our "memory" visit during Chinese New Year holiday in 2015. It used to have a mango tree in front and a jambu tree at the back. They are all gone now.

Growing up in a small town, my imagination of my own future was very limited.

As a child, I saw most of the women around me playing complementary instead of leading roles in the society. I remember the Walt Disney cartoons that I used to watch as a child. They always seemed to tell the tale of fair maidens waiting for a white knight or Prince Charming to come along so that they could live happily ever after. (I am glad that Disney has changed its tune – from Elsa in Frozen to Moana; we are seeing smart, bold and hardworking female characters fulfill their purpose in life. Their role isn’t just to be pretty and marry someone!)

It was through the story of my aunt, Yeo Swee Lan, who was the first woman university graduate in Batu Anam, that I could finally imagine that I, as a girl too, could acquire good education qualifications. Below is the picture of my aunt together with all the proud nieces and nephews celebrating my aunt's graduation. I am on the right most in the front row. 

Despite having a good role model, I became a problematic student in my first taste of school. When I was 7 years old, my parents enrolled me at SRJK (C) Seg Hwa, which was one of the best schools in Segamat. However, I became a problematic student after being frightened by one of the teachers. I developed a phobia about going to school and began to lie to my parents by telling them I was sick to avoid going. Most of the time I used stomachache as an excuse as there are no external indicators. Sometimes, I even chased my school bus down the road to beg the bus driver to bring me home!

Because of my problematic first year in primary school (I attended less than half of the total school days), my father decided to transfer me to SRJK(C) Hwa Nan, which was a walking distance from my house in Batu Anam, and wasn’t a highly-ranked school.

In my first year at Hwa Nan, my class teacher helped to build up my confidence in learning. I didn’t skip classes anymore. The following year, our school had a new principal who was determined to improve the school. At the same time, we also saw the arrival of four young and passionate teachers who had bachelor degrees. (It was a big deal for a village school like Hwa Nan to receive so many new teachers with degrees.)

With the hard work of the principal as well as the new and existing teachers, SRJK (C) Hwa Nan slowly climbed up the ranks in terms of its students’ performance during my years there. When I finished primary six, the school was ranked fifth or sixth in Segamat. The transformation of this village school changed my attitude towards learning and basically, life.

Below is our class photo. Principal Sia Miew Choo is the lady in green in the middle, beside her are assistant principals Leong Mok Ching (left) and Tan Shu Hua (right). I am directly behind principal Sia.

Every time I think about my childhood, I thank God that I was a lucky kid who happened to be in the right place at the right time, when there were good teachers and a good principal in the school that wasn’t my parents’ first choice for me.

In fact, education plays a big part in my personal journey. I completed my education with the help of public schools and scholarships - Petronas Scholarship in University Technology Petronas for my bachelor degree and Gates Cambridge Scholarship in University of Cambridge for my master degree. These experiences sowed a deep desire in my heart to see every child in Malaysia receiving a good education, regardless of race, religion, geography and family background.

Bachelor degree graduation in University Technology Petronas. 

With my parents at my master degree graduation in Cambridge University. 

People may think that as long as you work hard, opportunities will come to you. But my personal experience has taught me that a person can receive opportunities only when someone else is willing to create and give it to them. And really, there is some extent of luck involved in scholarship selection and many other things in life. Whether a person can fulfil his/her potentials and dreams depends a lot on the system and environment he/she is born in.

I am often asked what motivated me to join politics.  Here is an article on my journey entering into politics written many years ago. All in all, the ultimate aim really is to create as many opportunities as possible to help others realize their dreams.

My hope is that our system - economy, development, education, healthcare, social welfare as well as democracy and human rights will be an enabler to everyone under the Malaysian sun to lead a fulfilling and happy life.

(Last updated on 19 Feb 2018)