TWO Pakatan Harapan women leaders have pledged their support for the Penang government’s ‘Top-Up Women Only Additional Seat’ (Twoas) initiative.
PKR Advisory Council chairman Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Parti Amanah Negara Wanita chief Senator Aiman Athirah Al-Jundi said the initiative was in line with the country’s aspiration and policy to have more women in decision-making roles.
“The initiative, meant to increase the women’s voice in the state legislative assembly, is in sync with the demand and women’s struggles across the world too.
“It provides a platform for a balanced democracy in Malaysia, ” the statement read.
Introduced by the Penang government in December last year, it is aimed at ensuring a minimum of 30% female representation in the Penang State Legislative Assembly.
Citing an example, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow was then quoted as saying in the event where only six were elected, another nine would be appointed to ‘top’ the number of representatives to 15.
In this case, he said the female representation would be 30.5%, with 15 female representatives out of 49.
There are 40 lawmakers in the Penang State Assembly, six of them women.
Chow also said the initiative would benefit every party fairly, regardless if the party became the Government or Opposition.
Citing another example, he said if the Penang government obtained 60% of the popular votes and the Opposition received 40%, then the Penang government is entitled to nominate 60% and the Opposition 40% of the number of nominated members.
He said all political parties would have to submit a nomination list of their female representatives before a general election.
The statement also said increasing female participation in a male-oriented political landscape would require out-of-the-box strategies, programmes and wise policies.
“These can only be realised if there is an inclusive leadership, especially at the highest level of a country or state as well as political parties.
“Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has led by example as an inclusive leader who is progressive and wise in ensuring there are a handful of women leaders in the state, ” it said.
The statement also pointed out that unlike Sabah, Terengganu and Pahang, the process in Penang was done in a transparent, objective and careful manner.
The initiative carefully spells out the principles, why and how it should be implemented, and based on the percentage of votes obtained by every political party in the general election.
“This should serve as an example for every state and Federal Government in ensuring 30% of female participation in decision-making roles, either at the parliamentary or state level.
“This will lead to an upgrade of Malaysian electoral system, especially in the practice of First-Past-The-Post (FPTP), which is clearly detrimental to some political parties, especially those in the Opposition.
“We would like to congratulate the state exco member Chong Eng, who has taken a bold effort in introducing the initiative, ” the statement added.
Activist Marina Mahathir also applauded the state government’s effort in introducing the Twoas.
However, she said the appointment must be made based on the qualifications of the individuals.