KUALA LUMPUR: Her appointment as political secretary to the Prime Minister came as a pleasant surprise to Datin Paduka Norhayati Onn (pic), who believes it will pave the way for greater involvement of Malaysian women in politics.
Norhayati, 50, who was sworn in to the post on Monday, is the first woman to serve the country’s Prime Minister as political secretary.
The mother of three said her appointment came as a surprise even though Wanita Umno, under the leadership of Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, had been pushing for more women to be actively involved in mainstream politics.
“I have served Umno for more than 30 years and never expected to be given this opportunity.
“I am truly humbled to be chosen for the job and I am honoured to be serving Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as his political secretary,” she said in an interview yesterday.
Norhayati, who entered politics at the tender age of 16, has been the Klang Wanita Umno chief since 1992.
She is currently the Selangor Wanita head and is also in the exco line-up of the national Wanita Umno movement.
The daughter of former Umno permanent chairman Tan Sri Onn Ismail had served as a senator for two terms.
Her appointment reflects Najib’s confidence in women for all fields in the workforce, including politics, she said, adding that she had been given the task to look after women’s issues.
The first thing she plans to do is organise a meet-up between political secretaries of Cabinet ministers and the Wanita leadership of Barisan Nasional component parties, beginning with Wanita Umno.
“Once we know each other, the better we can work together to serve the people,” she said.
Welcoming Norhayati’s appointment, Shahrizat said it had created history as it was the first time a woman was appointed to fill the post.
“It marks another milestone in the Barisan Wanita’s struggles towards mainstreaming women’s participation as policy makers in the political arena,” she said in a statement here yesterday.
The Wanita Umno chief expressed hope the appointment would inspire women in Malaysia to continue playing their roles to ensure success for the national transformation agenda.