by Maria Chin Abdullah
15 April 2009
The Coalition of Good Governance (CGG) warmly welcome back Elizabeth Wong to her rightful and elected position as the ADUN of Bukit Lanjan and as the member of the State Ex-Co of Selangor. We also congratulate the Selangor State Government and YB Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim for making the decision to reject the resignation of Elizabeth Wong. This bold step is commendable and speaks volumes of the state government’s commitment to end sexualised politiciking in the Malaysian. The residents’ associations from Bukit Lanjan, Bandar Utama, Kota Damansara, and many more have spoken loudly and have demanded for the return of Elizabeth Wong.
What happened to Elizabeth Wong is representative of the kind of barriers faced by women entering politics. The political space in Malaysia is still dominated by patriarchal values. The yardstick used to measure women’s success, capability and ability tends to differ from that used for men. For women, their successes and abilities are not only measured based on merit but against them as being women and, therefore, viewed as subordinate to men. Women have to make much more effort to protect their “reputation” or to have a “unblemished” image. While men are measured based on ability to do the job – period. These challenges faced by women act as deterrent for future and potential women candidates who may want to participate in politics.
It is also very unfortunate that even with the bold decision made by the Selangor Menteri Besar, there is resistance from among prominent politicians who still want to indulge in gutter politics. The results of the March 8 General Elections, the victories in Permatang Pauh, Kuala Trengganu, Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau are evidence that Malaysian voters have matured. They have rejected sexualised, regressive and degrading politics. Vicious attacks against the private lives of the people’s representatives, corruption, and the lack of accountability are politics of the past and should no longer mar the political landscape in Malaysia.
Maria Chin Abdullah
Chair of the Coalition for Good Governance