Ascending to the peak of one’s career is not an easy task, some more in the political landscape on a foreign soil. That’s how Penny Wong, an Australian politician of Malaysian origin, made her mark in an illustrious career path. Currently, she is the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, a monumental achievement starting from a humble beginning. Being born in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, she was the elder child to her Australian mother Malaysian father who was of Chinese Hakka origin. Just like other inspirational stories happening around the world, her life is not full of bed and roses.
At the tender age of eight, she has to experience the separation of her parents after which she moved to Adelaide, South Australia together with her mother and younger sibling. She started her primary education in Coromandel Valley Primary School and studied hard towards achieving her tertiary level in Scotch College, Adelaide, getting scholarship in the process. Having a bright mind and intelligent instinct, she was deservedly accepted into the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Adelaide. She was supposed to be a doctor, but an aversion to blood changed her mind and course, graduated instead with a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours at the University of Adelaide before and completing a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the University of South Australia.
Having been exposed much to the landscape of politics during her university years, she worked for a union, as a ministerial adviser in the NSW Labor Government, and as a lawyer upon graduating from her studies. As always, life in politics demands willful resolution and perseverance. She strived hard and never looked back since, getting elected to the Senate in 2001 and took her seat in 2002. Not content with the achievement thus far, Penny never rested on her laurels. One of the biggest breakthrough for her happens in 2004 where she was elected to the Shadow Ministry. Her career reached the pinnacle when she was appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate in 2013. However, she was appointed the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate following Labor’s defeat at the 2013 Australian federal election and she is the first woman to hold both these roles, stamping her mark as a true political figure in the context of woman rights.
Penny has shown not only to Australia and Malaysia, but to the world how a female could be influential in the stage of politics, normally dominated by men. As a lesbian, she also showed the world what true equality means, living and flourishing in Australia, a country which shows respect to LGBT and clamping down on human rights issue and racism. We felt proud of Penny, a real-life symbolic figure that shows any person could find their own footing and success no matter their personality, traits, and differences. As long as being equipped with the right attitude and given the right place to shine, the limit to what we achieve is unimaginable.