KOTA KINABALU: MP for Tawau Datuk Christina Liew said Malaysia needs a strong commitment and political will from all political parties for the Government to implement the recommendation by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) to publicly fund political parties in the country.
“I am saying this in support of the Sabah Women Action-Resource Group’s (Sawo) call to the Government to consider the recommendation with an annual total of RM133 million in direct funding.
“I also welcome Sawo’s push for the second recommendation in the Bersih 2.0 study that RM10 million should be provided to all parties that succeed in electing at least one woman parliamentarian.
“However, without parties’ firm commitment and political will, the recommendations will only remain on paper as implementation is not likely to see the light of day,” she said in a statement, here, Saturday,
Liew, who is Sabah PKR Chief, was commenting on Sawo President Winnie Yee’s suggestion that parties should be funded both directly and indirectly by the Government to reduce the parties’ dependence on private funds, and that parties that elect women lawmakers should be rewarded with special funding.
“We at Sawo truly believe that providing financial support to parties with women MPs is the key to raising women’s participation in politics. The sum (RM10 million) should be proportionally divided among the parties by women-held seats, and earmarked entirely for parties’ expenses in promoting women’s participation in politics,” the Sawo President was quoted as saying.
By the same token, Liew, who is a former Deputy Chief Minister, reiterated her call to the State Government to emulate the governments in Johor and Perak in giving Opposition legislators the same development allocation as their Government counterparts. She had made the call when debating on the State Budget 2021 at the State Legislative Assembly sitting in December 2020.
While conceding with Yee that it is imperative for governments at all levels to increase the percentage of women decision-makers in all bodies, including legislatures and cabinets, Liew contended that the move will remain an uphill struggle without undivided support from the menfolk.
“Over the past decades, this crucial point has been publicly acknowledged by many women political leaders, women activists and women’s rights groups in the country. For the past 20 years, Malaysian women politicians have been clamouring for the targeted 30pc women’s political representation in Parliament as well as in the State legislative assemblies, but to no avail. “Again, it boils down to political will and affirmative action for the target to be achieved; otherwise, we will only be harping on the issue endlessly with no tangible results,” she reasoned.
At this juncture, the Tawau MP recalled that women Parliamentary Speakers and Parliamentarians from Commonwealth countries had in 2015 called for Malaysia’s legislation of the 30pc policy for women’s participation in decision-making roles in the public sector.
“Based on media reports, the women MPs made the call during the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Executive Committee Mid-Year Meeting hosted by Malaysia in Sabah that year. As governments around the world have legislated their 30pc policy for women’s decision-making in the public sector, why not Malaysia?”Only then, I believe, Malaysian women can attain the 30pc target for women’s representation in key decision-making positions,” Liew said, while suggesting that such legislation should also be expanded to include women’s political representation at all levels.
On Yee’s call upon the four women MPs from Sabah to advance the issue of raising women’s participation in politics to their respective parties, and in the next parliamentary sitting, the elected representative said she has been pushing for this reform ever since she joined PKR in the late nineties.
“As Vice-President (representing Sabah) in the PKR Central Leadership Council (MPP) and Sabah PKR Chief, and on a personal level, too, I have never wavered in persuading the party’s top leadership to consider increasing women’s representation in the Malaysian Parliament as well as in the Sabah State Legislative Assembly.
“In fact, I had recommended three new faces (women) for nomination as candidates in the 2018 General Election, and they were accepted by the top leadership. Unfortunately, two of them lost in their electoral debut. I made a similar attempt in the 2020 State Election.
“I have always been on the look-out for potential women candidates, and trying to identify winnable ones for submission to the top leadership for consideration,” she shared.
In retrospect, Liew said PKR began to field more women candidates, starting from the 12th General Election in 2008. From her observation, there are numerous factors that deter women from venturing into the political arena.
“These include the volatility in politics, gender bias in politics, lack of male support from a patriarchal society, shortage of finance, lack of self-confidence and cultural barriers.”
Yee had lamented that women’s representation hovers only at 14.4pc in the Malaysian Parliament today.”It is shameful that Malaysia ranks 142nd out of 190 countries surveyed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in this regard. It is high time for our Parliament and State legislatures to achieve a more balanced representation,” she had concluded.