Michelle Yeoh Criticized Over Her Political Views in Malaysia

HONG KONG – From saving James Bond from harm in Tomorrow Never Dies to standing firm against political tyranny in Luc Bresson's Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady, Michelle Yeoh is known for playing strong-willed characters on screen. And now the Malaysian-born actress has proven to be just as tenacious in real life, via her dogged support for her country’s beleaguered conservative prime minister.

Yeoh has come under social media attack since she appeared at an election rally in support of Najib Razak’s ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, in the southern state of Selangor on Apr. 20. At the event, the actress said Najib, who is running his first electoral campaign after ascending to his post in 2009, is a leader “who has done so many good things and will do more… I hope from the bottom of my heart that he will remain as the Prime Minister and I ask all of you to give him a strong mandate.”

PHOTOS: Oscar Roundtable: 6 Actors on Acting, Politics and the Pitfalls of Fame

Since then, critics of the Barisan-led government have rallied against Yeoh, with postings on a Facebook page supporting the opposition party, the Pakatan Rakyat, questioning the actress’ knowledge of everyday life in her home country and urging her to “not become a traitor.”

Having ruled Malaysia uninterrupted since the country’s independence in 1957, Barisan Nasional (which was known as the Parti Perikatan before 1973) has seen its grip on power gradually loosened in recent years amidst corruption allegations and political scandals, with its once overwhelming control in the federal legislature whittled down to a narrow majority as support surges for the Pakatan Rakyat, led by former Barisan Nacional deputy leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Yeoh has since remained steadfast in her support for Najib. In an interview with Channel News Asia, the actress said: “This is a democratic country and we are free to voice our opinion… I believe all of us want to do good for our country.” Speaking to the Chinese press at a cosmetics launch in Hong Kong on Monday, Yeoh said she “is a straight-talking person, and I will speak out if I have something to say.” The Hollywood Reporter’s requests to her agent for clarification on the matter were not answered at time of writing.

STORY: Bond Girl Michelle Yeoh Deported from Burma Over Aung San Suu Kyi Role

While some might see a paradox in the actress’ support for Burmese pro-democracy activist (and possible president-in-waiting) Aung San Suu Kyi and Barisan Nacional -- a coalition criticized for its track record of suppressing dissent, including a stringent censorship regime against films touching on sensitive subjects like the communist insurgency in the 1950s and 1960s -- Yeoh’s support for the ruling coalition is hardly a surprise.

Her father, Yeoh Kian Tiek, is a veteran member of the Malaysian Chinese Association, one of the founding members of the umbrella political front. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in March, the actress said her father's political engagement rubbed off on her, and has likely played a part in her enthusiasm for championing social causes such as Suu Kyi’s fight in Burma or the introduction of traffic safety education around the world.

Yeoh's father himself has spoken out in support of her daughter’s political views, saying how the public should respect the actress’ right to support any political party.

Yeoh is not the only Malaysian celebrity receiving a massive critical backlash at home for support of Barisan Nacional. Singer Eric Moo was also censured for appearing at a concert linked to the ruling coalition, and bloggers have called for a boycott of his albums as protest.

STORY: Troubled Malaysian Film Festival's Co-Director Resigns

Analysts are predicting the upcoming election, which is to be held on May 5, will be one of the tightest-fought in Malaysian history. The political uncertainty has led to more than just star-bashing in the country, however: the Kuala Lumpur Communications and Creative Mart, which was supposed to be held from March 26 to 29, was postponed to make way for the elections. The organizers have yet to announced when the event will take place, if at all.

  • Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors 3 hours ago
    Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors

    Long after television grew to dominate American and British homes, newsreel producer British Pathé kept at it, documenting the news of the day until finally ceasing production of new short films in 1970 after 60 years of effort. Last week, all of British Pathé's 85,000 films were put online — including dozens of fascinating, rare and often weird car films that resemble nothing so much as a jet-age Top Gear.

  • Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete 4 hours ago
    Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete

    During this vile, never-ending winter, motorists had three options to keep their cars clean: Shell out on regular car washes; slave away in the cold, wind and snow washing it yourself, or screw it and just drive a dirty car. I, like many, chose the last option. But if only I'd been able to test Nissan's self-cleaning car, all my troubles would have washed away.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 11 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.
    I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.

    I have committed a taboo – I have tendered my resignation without securing the next job. The reactions to the announcement were varied but they all pretty much hint at a deep sense of disapproval. “Why did you do that?” It was as if I had renounced my faith. “What are you going to do from now on?” Almost as though a misfortune had incapacitated me. “What does your family have to say about it?” As if I had offered to cook for the next family dinner. I was, and still am, certain of my reasons and motivations for the resignation. However the response I received got me thinking about why people are so concerned about the gaps in their careers. The developed world evolved from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy to the service age, then to the knowledge economy in the late 1990s and 2000s marked by breakthroughs in technological innovations and competition for innovation with new products and processes that develop from the research community. According to The Work Foundation, the knowledge economy is driven by the demand for higher value added goods and services created by more sophisticated, more discerning, and better educated consumers and ... The post I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind. appeared first on Vulcan Post.