MALAYSIA has a woman mayor — the first in the country. Her name is Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad and she will take over the helm as Petaling Jaya mayor as of Jan 1, 2013.
Alinah will replace former mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman, who will assume duties as the deputy state secretary.
The first question StarMetro asked Alinah, who is currently Selangor Singular Real Property Housing Board chief executive officer, was how does it feel to be Malaysia’s first woman mayor?
“This is very important to me and I shall do my best to deliver. That is my main objective,” said Alinah, 63, who is busy clearing her work schedule as CEO until end of December.
She thanked the Selangor state government for giving her the honorific appointment.
Yes, she is the first woman mayor in Malaysia, but that does not make her special, she said.
“Yes, I am a lady, but I still have to prove that I can perform my mayoral duties.”
Alinah added that she would use the mandate and trust given by the state government to fulfil her new duties the best way possible. The first thing on her agenda is to make Petaling Jaya not only a liveable city, but also loveable city especially for the business community.
“It is important that the community can feel like they belong in Petaling Jaya,” she enthused, adding that she intends to work hard to enhance the development in the city.
“My philosophy is to delve deep not only in the physical aspects of development, but also the spiritual aspects,” she said, citing an example of curbing vandalism in Petaling Jaya.
While she admitted she was not yet well versed with Petaling Jaya, Alinah took this as a challenge as part of her upcoming duties as mayor in a new territory.
Going down to the grassroots is essential to fix some of the on-going problems in Petaling Jaya, she stressed.
“I am looking forward to working closely with the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) councillors and I will need their cooperation to educate me about the problems in their respective zones.”
Having had to focus on Selangor property matters for the last 12 years, Alinah’s task to focus on Petaling Jaya solely will be interesting. “Although the scope is smaller, my duties will entail meeting with people all the time. I am up to the challenge and I have to prove that I can do it.”
A mother of three children, Alinah, was born in Johor Baru on Dec 16, 1949. She received a Bachelor of Social Science from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and a Diploma in Public Administration from the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan).
Her previously held posts were chief assistant secretary at the Implementation Coordination Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department from 1981 to 1989, State Financial Secretariat chief assistant, Petaling district office enforcement assistant district officer, Kuala Langat chief assistant district officer and later Selangor Land and Mines Department deputy director.
Meanwhile, All Women’s Action Society (Awam) is glad to see a woman appointed as Petaling Jaya mayor.
“Such an appointment is long overdue because women contribute greatly to the country’s development and must have a greater say in its direction and running,” a spokesperson said.
“Our political offices ought to represent the diversity of voices and faces in our community. Marginalised and minority groups in particular must be included as their voices are often the least heard. We must go beyond including figures who represent such groups to developing leadership among them, with a specific focus on the next generation.”
“The real battle to increase women’s political participation must be fought and won in each of these spaces and so too for other under-represented groups such as orang asli, the poor and transgenders,” said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) congratulated the nation in welcoming the first female mayor in Malaysia.
“The federal government has been talking about 30% women representation in top positions for decades.
“However, there is still a long way to go. This is a positive move and we hope there will be more women representations in the near future.”