Appoint Women To Head State Agencies Sabah Govt Urged
The GRS government only has two women assistant ministers – (from left) PBS’ Julita Mojungki and STAR’s Flovia Ng – and one woman nominated rep, Amisah Yassin of Sabah PPBM.KOTA KINABALU: Umno Supreme Council member Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin hopes the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government will make up for the lack of women representation in the state Cabinet by appointing more women to lead statutory bodies in the state.
Describing the issue as “disappointing”, Rosnah, a former deputy federal minister, said she understood the uproar over the decision as it was moving away from past practices that gave due recognition to women leaders.
“(The uproar) is understandable because (for instance) during Barisan Nasional’s time, women were recognised in all sectors.
The current lack of women in leadership positions was “quite a sad thing and really disappointing”, she said.
Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.“I hope this can be rectified by appointing women into government-linked companies. This is because women contributed quite a bit in development and in the party itself – it’s time for them to be recognised. It’s good to have women as a balance factor,” she told FMT.
Rosnah, head of Papar Wanita Umno, was reacting to the fact that the GRS government has only two women assistant ministers – Julita Mojungki (PBS) and Flovia Ng (STAR) and a nominated rep, Amisah Yassin of Sabah PPBM.
“We are still hoping for the leadership to look into this because it’s good to have women as a balance factor. It has always been the practice in the past and we hope it will also be practised especially now,” she said.
Jainab Ahmad Ayid.Sabah Wanita Umno chief Jainab Ahmad Ayid called for calm over the issue.
“Many people have the wrong perception … There are other positions such as in the GLCs as well as (the position of) councillors and community leaders that women could still be appointed to,” she told FMT.
She said the party’s wing believed that more women should be considered for such positions by the GRS government under the leadership of Chief Minister Hajiji Noor.
Jainab, a former state minister in the previous BN government, said Deputy Chief Minister Bung Moktar Radin, who is Sabah BN chief, had assured party members especially the women that they were in his plans.
“He (Bung) had told us that he appreciated the work and role played by women and that he would work hard. There is a place for us in the (state) government so I urge all women to continue their fight and don’t let this weaken our spirit.”
Other women leaders, however, did not have kind words for the new government.
Jannie Lasimbang.Sabah DAP Wanita chief Jannie Lasimbang questioned why the government had placed Julita and Flovia in the same ministry (community development and people’s wellbeing).
“And why didn’t they (GRS) make them ministers? While Flovia is new, Julita has been an assemblywoman longer and she can be quite capable. They don’t even have trust for their own women reps,” she said.
Lasimbang, who is the Kapayan rep, feared the worst now for issues relating to women in the state.
“If you want to forward good policies on women, they have to be ministers. I think not having a woman minister in the state Cabinet would mean issues relating to women would be at the backburner.
“The assistant minister’s task is to help the minister. So if the minister is a man, it would be much harder to bring issues of women to the fore.”
The Society for Equality, Respect and Trust for All Sabah (SERATA) said this issue drove home the fact that women have always been sidelined in Sabah politics.
Its chairperson and founder, Sabrina Melissa Aripen told FMT that Sabah’s first woman minister was appointed only in 1976, some 13 years after the formation of Malaysia.
“Since then, we have mostly had only one full minister who is a woman. Only in the last government did we have a woman elevated to deputy chief minister status and two well-qualified women as assistant ministers.
“Suddenly there was some actual work in progress, for example, towards ending child marriage. But even then, it is not enough,” she said.
She added that the ratio of male to female population in Sabah is almost 50:50, hence, it only made sense that the state Cabinet reflected this as well.
Another NGO, the Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo) had earlier issued a strongly-worded statement over its feelings on the lack of women representation, saying it was a “dark day” for women in the state and that their position and status has reached “rock bottom”.
The group said the six best loser women candidates actually deserved to be appointed as nominated assemblymen because they actually ran for the election and captured between 35% to 42% of the total votes cast in their respective constituencies.
“The message of this GRS-led government to Sabahan women is very loud and clear. They think that Sabahan women are not good enough nor capable to deserve to sit at the table together with male leaders to govern the state. Our message to the new government: ignore women at your own peril.” - FMT
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