Hannah bookState Assemblyman for Subang Jaya

 Becoming Hannah, written to remind people from overseas to come home.

1. Tell us about the most challenging time in your life

My most challenging moment is when I first won the election (Subang Jaya State seat 2008). That was a big shift from living my own life to becoming a public figure. Your time is no longer yours and because I am young, I had to work extra hard to prove that I can be an effective representative of the people. I’m glad that time is over for me now. This is going to be my eighth year in politics. My most challenging role now is trying to balance being a working mother, a wife and also a people’s representative. I am always struggling with the guilt – when I am with the children I struggle with guilt of not being with the people. And when I’m with the people I struggle with the guilt of not being with my children.

When I was breastfeeding, my timetable got me running in and out every two hours to feed the baby. And when I was late sometimes I could see the child crying because she was hungry and I didn’t have enough milk to store. It was really stressful. As a politician I have a flexible work schedule so striking a balance (between work and child) was easier.

2. How do you strike a satisfactory balance between the two?

Something has to give. When we had our first child we wanted to do everything for her ourselves, like washing every bottle. But that was not realistic so we hired a maid to help us. That was the sacrifice I had to make. I cannot do everything myself for the kids and I cannot do national politics but I do what I can for Subang Jaya. I cannot afford the time to go outstation and I choose the cause I want to champion. It’s a daily decision to be a mother and to be working.

3. Have you ever thought of giving up?

In my first term I thought a lot about it. I constantly threw tantrums at God and say why can’t I live my own life at this young age but there was work to be done. I dealt with that tantrum and just moved on. Because in the first term I see a lot of challenges and have not seen the reward. But now in my eighth year I am beginning to see the fruit of the work we put in. Now if I go out and I see a teenager, the teenager will tell me he was there at my first children’s day event eight years ago. I am beginning to see the result from our investment in the young, seeing them stand up for what is right. For me now it’s doing the best I can to reap some reward for the younger generation.

4. What drives you when the going gets tough?

The fact that the work is undone. There is still work to be done and I know that a lot of people look up to me as a role model; that you can go into politics and remain clean and excel. If I give up half way before finishing my term that would be a sign of failure and that may disappoint some people. There is still work left undone and I need to finish it!