KUALA LUMPUR: Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh used to be teased in school because of her weight, an experience that left her with body image issues for years.
That’s why in conjunction with the #StandTogether National Kindness Week (April 1-5), she is calling on all Malaysians to practice more kindness in their speech ‒ both online and in person.
“It’s something that’s quite common in Malaysia, where people make comments about your weight,” she shared.
“It took me years, but I found comfort in good friends who were able to talk, counsel and move me from that position.”
WATCH: Hannah Yeoh nominates Bung Mokhtar for National Kindness Week
As a politician, it is nearly impossible for Yeoh to avoid receiving more nasty messages and comments, but she has learnt to “disengage” from negative discourse online and not allowing them to affect her.
“It concerns me to think how (cyberbullying) has caused many young people to suffer depression, so my advice to parents is to not hand a gadget to your child without teaching them how to ‘disengage’.
“It’s so important to have a mentor, somebody you can look up to and speak to about something like that, so that you’ll know you are not alone,” she said.
Yeoh pledged to observe National Kindness Week together with students across the country, and called on other members of Parliament to do the same.
The #StandTogether National Kindness Week movement was initiated by R.AGE and SP Setia to empower students to create a new culture of kindness in Malaysia, starting with schools.
Nearly 3,000 students, teachers and members of the public have registered for the campaign this year.
Teachers and principals can register their schools to receive expert-developed resources, materials and activities which will help foster a more positive environment in their schools, while members of the public can take part by joining the interactive five-day Kindness Challenge on WhatsApp.
Other MPs who have already publicly pledged to support the campaign include Nurul Izzah Anwar, Khairy Jamaluddin, Hishamuddin Hussein, Tony Pua and Kasthuri Patto.
“We don’t have to be in agreement all the time, but we can still be kind to one another. I disagree with a lot of the BN politicians, but I would still ascribe kindness and understand that they are after all another human being,” said Yeoh, who is also Segambut MP.
“Don’t fight against the person, but fight against the act that is done.”
When asked which MP she would like to nominate to observe National Kindness Week, Yeoh nominated Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar.
* Sign up to support the student-driven National Kindness Week campaign. Click here to activate the WhatsApp registration chat bot: bit.ly/standtogether2019.
WATCH: Malaysia’s student-driven National Kindness Week movement