4 Badass Malaysian Women You May Not Have Heard Of

Editor’s note: The selection criteria of these women is completely arbitrary as their level of badassery cannot be quantifiable. Also, there are plenty of Malaysians who fit the bill, so we picked four who weren’t mentioned very often.

Patricia Yapp Syau Yin

Asia’s first female MiG-29 fighter pilot


She would have been more than qualified to become a commercial pilot. But no, she set her sights on something more badass.

A child of Sandakan, Sabah, Patricia disregarded her father’s objections and applied for the Royal Malaysian Air Force back in 1997. Today, she has experience doing acrobatic displays at air shows and a qualified flight instructor.

A Chandramalar

Crime-fighting legend

Today, she appears to be a lovely housewife and grandmother. In the 70s, the crime world would shudder at the sound of her name.

She started out as a primary school teacher, but academia simply cannot contain her. Chandra joined the police force and became the hero the city deserved. She became the first woman to head the Anti-Vice Branch at Penang, striking terror at brothels and gambling dens. She even went undercover as a prostitute to catch a pimp.

For the rest of her epic story, read A Legend in her Time.

Professor Emeritus Datuk Mazlan Othman

Malaysia’s first astrophysicist

For this one, we’ll just let her accolades do the talking.

  • The first woman to earn a PhD in physics at the National University of Malaysia.
  • Placed in charge of the Planetarium Division of the Prime Minister’s (Datuk Mahathir Mohamad at the time) Department.
  • Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna in 1999.
  • Founding Director General of Angkasa, the Malaysian National Space Agency.
  • There, her work led to the launch of the first Malaysian astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.

Siti Aisyah Alias

Marine polar researcher and lecturer
We’ve never even heard of her field of study: marine mycology. Whatever that is, she earned a PhD for it at the University of Portsmouth.

Upon returning to our shores, she modestly started out as a lecturer at University Malaya. She then started a research program on marine mycology, presumably so that more people would have heard of it.

Fast forward to 2001, she was appointed the Deputy Director of both (yes both) the National Antarctic Research Centre (NARC) and Malaysian Antarctic Research Programme (MARP). Her involvement in the scientific community landed her more positions at more abbreviated organizations, and earned her a few awards and her very own Wikipedia page.

So many awesome women! Aside from the above, which are your favourites?

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