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The first-time politician fighting race-based politics in Malaysia

Hannah Yeoh, 32, is a first-time politician with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Selangor state.

Before she was elected into office Ms Yeoh says she was the typical working Malaysian, disillusioned with the country's politics and griping about wages not keeping up with inflation.

A friend encouraged Ms Yeoh to stop complaining and register to vote. A few months later she was asked to run for a seat in the General Elections of 2008.

Ms Yeoh's first election turned out to be a historic one. The opposition coalition of which the DAP is a member ended up taking power in a few states and denied the governing party its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in nearly four decades.

Suddenly change was in the air. As an ethnic Chinese, Ms Yeoh says she wants to work against race-based politics that she says is entrenched in the national psyche.

This affects even civic basics like birth certificates, which now require the race of a child to be declared. Ms Yeoh and her husband, an ethnic Indian, are trying to challenge that by registering their newborn baby's race as Malaysian.

Their application was rejected but Ms Yeoh says she will continue to appeal.

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