AFTER eight years of humanitarian work, Dr Kelvin Yii decided to enter politics in 2013. He had realised that good deeds alone would not change a broken system. Better policies were needed.
The 31-year-old said his time as director of non-governmental organisation, Malaysian Medical Fellowship, when he provided medical aid in villages in Sabah and Sarawak, had opened his eyes to the impact of bad governance, especially on poorer communities which did not have access to quality healthcare.
“I saw with my own eyes the suffering, poverty and the oppression that a lot of regular folk in Sarawak went through because of bad policies and governance.
“Yes, we provided simple treatments and we could give them temporary relief but the policies were what was keeping them poor
“That is why my main motivation to join politics is to be part of the policy-making process,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
Born in Kuching, Yii is parliamentary assistant to Stampin MP Julian Tan and special assistant to Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen. Yi is also one of the new faces that DAP is expected to field in the 14th general election.
He has been on humanitarian missions to many countries in Asia, including Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, India, as well as Malaysia. He was also on the medical relief team to the Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan, and Kathmandu in Nepal during the earthquake.
“As good as it is to do charity and humanitarian work there has to be a complementary work where policies are being used to uplift the lives of people.
“I’m not discounting the importance of doing charity work but when the two spheres come together, we can find more holistic solutions for society. I hope that by entering politics, I can influence policy-making decisions or the government to ensure they alleviate problems of the people in the state,” he said.
Dr Yii, who graduated from the Volgograd State Medical University in Russia, is the first in his politically-connected family, who are loyal to the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), to join an opposition party.
His father is a lifelong SUPP member, he said, while an uncle worked for former SUPP president and retired federal minister Peter Chin. A second cousin, Adam Yii, is an SUPP leader and the Miri mayor.
“My dad asked me, are you sure? Are you willing to pay the price that comes with being on the other side of the divide? There are no benefits,” he said of his father’s reaction to his joining DAP.
Dr Yii said he was not after position or power, but was ready to contest in GE14 if he is picked to run.
“My passion is to serve my state and the people in my state. And I want to inspire more young people to get involved. To inspire other youth to continue fighting for our rights as Sarawakians and to push for good governance and accountability.
“If I’m elected, I will be the youngest MP in Sarawak,” said the doctor who has completed a Masters in Medical Law and is awaiting his results from the University of Northumbria.
He became a DAP member in 2015 but had been volunteering with the party since 2013, and involved in civil society work.
He said he chose DAP because the party had confidence in young leaders.
“I also believe in its ideology, in what it is doing and its consistency in fighting corruption.
“Healthcare and education issues are among my issues of focus but I also want to empower young people. To see more young people engaged in the political process, in the political conversation and in the policy-making process,” he said, adding that his focus now is to serve both Bandar Kuching and Stampin constituencies.
As a Sarawakian, Yii also wants the state’s rights to be reinstated as agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“I will fight tooth and nail for the restoration of our rights. In Sarawak, there are a lot of people with limited access to quality healthcare. I just want proper and basic infrastructure to be provided for Sarawak, like clean water and roads.
“As for the unemployment rate among young people, I will fight for policies that provide a conducive environment for Sarawakians to compete, not just on the national stage but hopefully, the international stage too.”