KUALA LUMPUR: Changing the mindset of Malaysians to rebuild a new inclusive Malaysia is difficult, and that is why Hannah Yeoh wants to start with the civil service.
"Changing government is the easy part, changing mindset is the hardest," said the Women, Family and Community deputy minister during a Merdeka Day celebration held by Malaysians for Malaysia on Thursday (Aug 31).
Yeoh said the new mould for Malaysia should be not divisive or tear people down, and she aimed to achieve this by first changing the mindset of the civil service.
"I'm trying to better them, challenge them to think out of the box and do things differently," she said, adding that it would take time.
The Segambut MP said Malaysia had enough space for everyone to agree to disagree.
"My wish is that we co-exist without labelling one another," she added.
"When I tell Malays I can speak Malay, they are surprised that a Chinese person can speak Malay. But when I tell the Chinese I cannot speak Mandarin, they are surprised that a Chinese cannot speak Mandarin," Yeoh related.
She said in the new Malaysia, people should stop labelling each other and stop judging people from the language they used and the clothes they wore.
"Let Malaysians be Malaysians. There is a space for everyone here, let them enjoy," she said.
Yeoh urged Malaysians to speak loud and proud about a new inclusive Malaysia, whether it be through a movie, article or show.
She said there were enough good people in the government who would continue to be a voice for all Malaysians.
The Merdeka celebration was attended by notable activists like transgender advocate Nisha Ayub, lawyer Siti Kasim, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Ivy Josiah.
Also present was Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah.