It was 1954. Recently home from her studies in England, a 26-year-old barrister (one of only three female barristers in Malaya at the time) working at Bannon & Bailey law firm was given the opportunity to stand as the Malayan Chinese Association's (MCA) candidate for municipal councillor for Kuala Lumpur's Petaling Ward.
Ambitious, outspoken and convinced that this was her chance to improve her town of Kuala Lumpur, Gunn Chit Wha didn't hesitate to accept the nomination, and was appointed to the role after being elected in December of 1954.
The news coverage of her nomination at the time was peppered with terms like 'pretty bombshell', 'beauty and brains', and even descriptions of the cheongsam she wore. Unfazed by the prejudices she knew she would encounter as a woman in politics, Gunn had bigger fish to fry and she kept at her dream of improving her town and the lives of its people.
Life is about moving on, accepting changes and looking forward to what makes you stronger.— To' Puan Gunn Chit Wha
In the months that followed, Gunn worked hard to earn the trust of her community, representing their needs and managing between her time as Health Commissioner for maternal and child health, championing education for the hearing-impaired and successfully appealing to the Federation Chief Justice to save a teenaged girl from the gallows who was sentenced to death by the Malayan court for colluding with Communists.
Gunn would later be appointed the only female State Councillor in Selangor in 1959, with the support of the late Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Alhaj.
"I have never let societal prejudices about women put me down," she wrote in her recently released memoirs, Waves of Independence: Memoirs of a Malaysian Doyenne. "I did not then, and I will not now, either."
Today, the 92-year-old trailblazer reflects on the past and shares her hopes for future generations of Malaysians.