Free Malaysia Today
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR | Oct 3, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat leaders called Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak “ignorant” for his statement suggesting that there is no need for a women’s right movement here in Malaysia.
PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin, speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby, described Najib’s speech at the National Women’s Day celebration yesterday as an insult to women and “ill-advised”.
The Ampang MP said the prime minister was apparently unaware of Malaysia’s poor rating in the Global Gender Gap index which ranked Malaysia at 95th among 135 countries, far below its regional neighbours like the Philippines and Thailand.
“He had failed to differentiate between the right to vote and national participation. We are now at a point where we want to empower and mainstream women’s role.
“But the empowerment process is poor and this is proven in the Global Gender Index Gap 2011,” she said.
Najib sparked an uproar yesterday when he dismissed the need for a women’s right movement in the country, saying the community had been treated equally “since the start” and that Malaysia was more advanced than others in that aspect.
“In some developed countries, the men were allowed to vote before women but, in Malaysia women had the right to vote from the start,” said the prime minister, who also holds the Women, Family and Community Development portfolio.
Zuraida said the fact that Najib was holding that position and failed to improve the gender-gap added to the insult.
DAP Wanita chief Chong Eng said Najib’s control over the portfolio also suggested that the Umno chairman saw no capable leaders from the ruling party’s women’s wing to take over the post.
The post was vacated by current Umno Wanita chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil after she was forced to step down following her family’s involvement in the National Feedlot Centre scandal.
Chong, who is also Bukit Mertajam MP, added that women’s issues had been raised many times in Parliament and it was hoped that Najib would address it in the committee stage of the budget debate.
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