Live life to the fullest

Kasthuri Patto, a Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan, Penang spoke to the young people on A Call to Serve, Aug 10. She shared her struggles in life and how she lived her faith as a Catholic politician.

Aug 30, 2019

By Vincent D’Silva
The time has come for us to have more young people in politics and if you think politics is dirty, then it’s your call to clean it up.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Batu Kawan, Penang, Kasthuri Patto said, “We need good people in politics so that we can rebrand politics so that it won’t be corrupt or dirty.”

Kasthuri Patto was speaking at the Archdiocese KL Young People’s Assembly (AYPA) on the theme A Call to Serve where she introduced herself and spoke of how she entered politics.

The 40-year-old politician said her life had been a roller-coaster journey and considers herself a small potato in the government.

However, she quipped, “Size doesn’t matter”.

She said there will always be corrupt politicians and there are those who abuse power. There will always be those with bad values who think they will never get caught.

However she cautioned, “But you must make sure you must never let them win or get away”. Kasthuri, a graduate from Universiti Malaya, said that you must have a heart and conscience and that conscience must always speak and you must listen and it will say your calling must be in politics.

The second-term MP, who is also the Wanita DAP Publicity Secretary and is known for fighting for female rights in Parliament, also spoke very much of her late father who was considered a ‘firebrand’.

She also spoke of her father, a politician who inspired her. Her father would have wanted a Malaysian Malaysia that is free from racism, bigotry, corruption, scandals, inequality and cruelty.

She said, “One may call him an idealist, but I would rather follow the dreams of an idealist to strive relentlessly to achieve what I can, than be a pessimist who scoffs at idealism. He hated race-based political parties and hated more the venom such parties spew.

She pointed out that P Patto would have wanted Malaysians from all walks of life to come together, without fear or favour, to reject and to continuously fight a government built upon the foundation of tyranny, injustice, hatred, discrimination and favouritism.

“He died doing what he dedicated his life for. A Malaysian Malaysia, for our children, so that they, with their heads held high, can live together with dignity, love and courage,” she said.

She called on the youths and young adults present in the hall to be aware of the surroundings. “We need to challenge ourselves so we can do something better not just for us but for our families, friends, and churches, our working environment and for the nation”.

She said, “You need to be part of the political movement in the country and for this, you need to act.”

To a question about what age she was called to this mission in politics, she responded that when her father passed away, she was a little upset with God for taking him away at a young age. It was by chance that she had the desire to serve the people and bring about change.

“Coming from a political family, I felt my calling was going to be in politics and not in social work or activism,” she stressed.

Hence, she said when she was asked to contest the Batu Kawan constituency, she prayed about it, as it was not easy as she was not from that constituency.

“I had to go there and fight this big battle. I really prayed about it very hard before making my decision. I also had people praying for me,” she said.

According to Kasthuri, they told her to “keep your faith as your shield and go”. She then told herself that if that was what God wanted her to do, then she was going for it. “I went, and won with a 25,000 majority. And the second time it was an increased majority of 33,000.”

She told the audience that if you want to ask God something, you need to ask him with all your heart, adding that, “you should not ask him half-heartedly.

He knows and He will wait for you to ask Him.”

The DAP parliamentarian said it was indeed a hard decision but she knew God wanted her to do something and she took up the challenge.

“Despite objection from my mother, I took the challenge and won the battle,” she said.

Turning to the youths and young adults in the hall, she said if politics is not your calling, then maybe it could be activism or social work, or your calling could be with the Church.

She made it clear that one should never limit oneself. She urged them to attend talks, forums and engage with friends who are outside the circle, network with people outside Malaysia, outside the comfort zone.

Without mincing her words, she urged them to take the initiative to read and see what’s happening in the world today. The time is now right for our youngsters to read the signs of the times and move ahead.

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