Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Press Statement dated 6 June 2016

There is an apparent inertia when it comes to gender equality in Malaysia’s political landscape. No doubt Anwar Ibrahim is the iconic figure most supported as the PM candidate, with the President of Keadilan, Wan Azizah willing to be the interim PM while the process of #BebasAnwar gets sorted out. Still, there is still a void which nobody, especially Muslim women dare to even think about.

The gracious, gentle and reluctant politician, as we all come to know fondly as Kak Wan, has been consistently supportive of Keadilan’s ‘Reformasi’ cause, central to the #BebasAnwar movement. Many of the key supporters are loyal to this cause and although it is the main driver behind Keadilan as a party, there should be, a plan B or plan C. Kak Wan's role as the interim PM must be strengthened further to propel our women's agenda into the next millennia.

At the very least, Mahathir has offered to be the next reluctant PM, but this is still subject to the approval of the Presidential Council. As Anwar says, Mahathir cannot simply volunteer to be the PM. Keadilan and Anwar Ibrahim has always been the uniting factor for the opposition bloc, which recently, accepted Bersatu and Amanah into the Pakatan fold. As unfortunate as it may seem, Pakatan Rakyat was the most suitable name for the coalition until the Sec-Gen of DAP declared unilaterally that PR was dead. Ideally, the coalition could be named Pakatan Keadilan Rakyat.

The PM candidate is still between the heavyweights like Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir and to a lesser degree Muhyiddin or even Mukhriz. As much as Rafizi Ramli wants to be part of the PM candidate nominee, he still has much to achieve in terms of rallying for a united support from the grassroots, something that Azmin Ali keeps close to his chest.

What is really missing in this less than perfect race for the top post is the lack of women representation. What this country needs is a choice of credible and influential women leaders that will enhance and give new life to the political scenario in Malaysia.

Leaders such as Zuraida Kamaruddin, chief of Wanita Keadilan, or even Nurul Izzah, daughter of Anwar Ibrahim should be presented as likely choices for the Prime Minister post. Even if this is not viable for now, women leaders should still be given an opportunity at it to allow the voters time to warm-up to the idea of having a woman PM in the future. Ultimately, the voters have the final say, but it is the political pact’s responsibility to provide this choice to voters.

In line with this, there should also be a choice of women candidates presented for the posts of Menteri Besar and Chief Minister.

Women are often shy of leadership positions and those who have made it so far should receive as much support as possible from within the party and public, especially women. How many women are willing to sacrifice their family time and other goals simply to pursue justice for the public?

If Pakatan were to be any different from Barisan Nasional, presenting women as PM, MB and CM candidates will definitely be a giant step forward. We need to drive home the point of empowering women to stamp out inequality in our society.

Carolyn Khor
Communications Chief for Women’s Wing
Parti Keadilan Rakyat
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