Johor state executive member (EXCO), Dato’ Tee Siew Kiong had recently called upon Teo Nie Ching, a member of parliament to quit or not to participate in politics  if she does not have time to take care of her children. The Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall Women Section express its astonishment over such inappropriate remark and in its press statement released today, condemn Tee’s failure to recognise the female’s  rights to participate in politics and public domain. The  Women Section also urge the government to take the lead in setting up child-care services to encourage the private sector to follow suit. This would improve gender equality within the various sectors and increase women’s employment opportunities.

The Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall Women Section is of the opinion that the  government should acknowledge the women’s right to participate in politics and economy development.  However, it is regretable to note that the participation of women, whether in the political or economic arena, is relatively low compared to other region in South East Asia. For example women make up only 48% of the employment rate in Malaysia, compared to 53% in Indonesia and 62% in Singapore. The participation of women in politics is also insignificant. Out of 222 elected parliamentarian, only 10% are female. In Johor state assembly (in which Dato’ Tee is a member), there are only 14% women state legislators, and only one female representative out of the 14 state executive council members. Paradoxically, as a state executive counsel member,  Dato’ Tee did not see the need to propose advancement, but ridicule instead Teo Nie Ching. Such conduct reflect the shortsightedness of him and further evident that he does not attach any importance to women related issues. He also failed to understand the actual problem and to formulate solution to overcome the same. It is ironically to note that In the recent 505 general election,  Barisan National’s manifesto had acknowledged women’s role in nation building and pledge to increase women’s participation in national policy decision-making. By making such a contradictory statement, Tee is actually telling BN to eat its own words.

The Women Section say: “we are living in a modern world and the importance of women’s role is beyond any dispute. To reciprocate the increasing gender awareness, the Government should provide more opportunities for women to contribute their talents towards national and social development. This will promote social progress and improve women’s economic status.”

It is the Women Section’s considered opinion that the lack of childcare services is an obstancle to the progress of women’s participation in politics and career undertakings. This lack of childcare centre and costly private childcare, the disparity in quality and standard in childcare services also attributed to low female employment rate in Malaysia. Although female students form a large ratio than male students in higher learning institution, but the current working environment is not women friendly. Women often faced difficulty to shoulder additional burdens, juggling between domestic responsibilities and career concern. Many women are forced to resign from workplace causing loss of income and hardship to many families, in particular, in time of inflation and rising cost of living.

Thus, the Chinese Assembly Hall Women Section suggest that the Government should legislate to compel government-linked companies, government agencies and medium-sized private companies to set up child-care services. This will allow women time to develop their potential in career advancement, increase women’s employment rate while their children are being taken care of. This will also assist the female gender to be financially sustainable and increase the family’s household income and stability.

The Government should also legislate to enforce gender equality in private sectors such as 90 days of paid maternity leave, equal pay, equal promotion opportunities and incentives for working women. The Women Section reiterate that it is high time that women be allowed to participation and contribute towards the country’s economy growth. This will also help to strike a balance between career building and family life, improving on individual and family financial stability achieving a win-win situation in many aspect.

Ng Geok Chee
Chairperson, The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Women Section

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