KUALA LUMPUR - The Selangor Sultan's decree that opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) submit more than three names for the post of state Menteri Besar (MB) may send the wrong signal about women holding public office, Malaysian civil society groups say.
"In the context of an acute shortfall of women in decision-making positions nationwide, it reinforces public perception that any woman's aspiration for public office is completely out of the ordinary despite the fact that the state Constitution itself is gender-neutral," said a statement endorsed by four non-governmental organisations. The four groups are All Women's Action Society, Perak Women for Women, Empower (or Education Means Protection of Women Engaged in Recreation) and Sisters in Islam.
They said that Kajang assemblywoman Wan Azizah Wan Ismail already commanded the majority support of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly, which should be enough for her to take up the post of Selangor MB. But, the Sultan last week decreed that each party within PR submit more than two names for the position to the palace by Wednesday.
"Therefore, should a candidate who does not enjoy majority support be appointed as MB, where does this leave the State Assembly?" said the groups yesterday, according to a report in The Malaysian Insider.
Datuk SeriWan Azizah has said she has the support of 30 of the 56 state assemblymen.
However, PR partner Parti Islam SeMalaysia has said it will forward two names to the Sultan. Detractors have accused the Islamic party of discriminating against Dr Wan Azizah for her gender, The Malay Mail Online reported.
Last month, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) expressed support for Dr Wan Azizah, saying: "Malaysia has one of the lowest percentages of women as elected representatives in the Asia-Pacific region. It desperately needs more women as political leaders and decision-makers."
No woman has ever led a Malaysian state before.
This article was first published on September 01, 2014.
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