Malaysia’s first woman fighter jet pilot awarded

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s first woman fighter jet pilot was one of the six Sabahan women presented with awards at the state-level Women’s Day celebration here on Saturday night.

Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin, 41, received the ‘Anugerah Wanita Cemerlang’. The other recipients were Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman’s wife Datin Seri Rubiah Datuk Abdul Samad who was awarded the ‘Anugerah Ikon Wanita’, former state Attorney General Datuk Mariati Robert who was awarded the ‘Anugerah Wanita Terbilang’, Sahrah Asor who received the ‘Anugerah Usahawan Wanita Harapan’, businesswoman Marinah Harris Embiricos, the ‘Anugerah Usahawan Wanita Cemerlang’ and Persatuan Ibu Tunggal Norqaseh Kinabatangan which received the ‘Anugerah Persatuan Wanita Cemerlang’.

Yapp, who is from Sandakan, is also the first woman Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter pilot in Asia and her success in her career in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)  made her the best candidate for the award.

Dressed in her air force uniform, she received the award from Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman which came with RM5,000, a trophy and certificate.

When asked for the ‘recipe’ to her successful career after the ceremony, Yapp said it was commitment and discipline when doing anything.

“Then of course there must be interest in everything we do,” said the mother of two children under seven-years old whose husband also serves in the RMAF.

Yapp, who has been with RMAF for 20 years, began flying fighter jets since 2003.

She also expressed her ambition to become not only the first Malaysian woman astronaut, but  also from Sabah, and has begun preparations towards achieving that dream.

“If not me then it will be our children,” said Yapp who is now an instructor with the air force and she expressed her gratitude to those who nominated and chose her for the award.

Yapp also said Malaysian military’s fair treatment of women officers and personnel reflects the government’s practice of gender equality.

She said she was able to fulfill her dream to fly fighter jets because of her passion in her chosen career in aviation and backed by high commitment and discipline to succeeed in a man’s world.

“The military gives fair treatment to both men and women, and this is something we see in the government as well, where men and women hold high positions.

“But, it is all about your interest and commitment, and most of all, God’s blessing, that will help you to succeed,” she said.

The venue of the state-level Women’s Day celebration was filled with applause and cheers as a smiling Yapp, who was clad in her pilot uniform, waved to the crowd and walked to the stage to receive her award.

After the ceremony, she was mobbed by attendees of the celebration wanting to be photographed with her, to which Yapp willingly obliged.

In his speech, Musa said Sabah’s development requires close cooperation from both men and women.

He said it was because of that the state government did not practise favouritism in its appointment of civil servants for important post to ensure smooth implementation of  development plans.

“I’m not one-sided. I will not hesitate to give important post (in the government)  to anyone based on merit.

“As such, the state government has no problem to provide opportunities for women in Sabah because we believe they, too, can contribute to the state’s development,” he said.

Musa also said the state government always strived to ensure the women in Sabah were competitive, as well as creative and innovative, so that they would not be left behind in development.

He said women also played an important role in further enhancing the 2050 National Transformation (TN50) programme for a more progressive future generation.

Earlier, Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid said the ministry, through the State Women Affairs Department (Jhewa), held the  Sabah Women TN50 programme last August 29 to gather the people’s aspirations on empowering women.

She said the programme touched on key issues on the future of Sabah women, as well as identified proposals on realising the aspirations of the Sabah women towards 2050.

At the event, Jainab handed over a document on Sabah Women TH50 containing proposals on empowering the Sabah women to Musa, who also launched an entrepreneurial  programme ‘Creating Millionaires Among Young Women Entrepreneurs (Cream)”.




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