THE issue of Malaysia Airlines stewardesses getting a raw deal became the topic of contention among four female MPs.
Three opposition MPs, who were not satisfied with the answer given by Women, Family and Community Development Ministry parliamentary secretary Chew Mei Fun, started asking her to state what exactly the ministry had done to help MAS stewardesses.
Among the alleged unfair treatment were requiring stewardesses not to get pregnant within the first seven years of service, no-pay leave from the second month of pregnancy and limiting the number of children they can have.
They would also be asked to quit or be grounded upon reaching the age of 40.
Chew had earlier said feedback from the national airline had shown that the move was to improve the situation for its stewardesses.
She also said her ministry had held meetings over the issue with the Human Resources Ministry and Transport Ministry.
Teresa Kok (DAP Seputeh), who was not satisfied with Chew's answer, asked what exactly were the improvements instituted by MAS.
The only improvement I know of is that stewardesses are now allowed to have one more child, up from two, Chew said.
Chong Eng (DAP Bukit Mertajam) said she was aware that Chew and her ministry wanted to improve the welfare of women.
We know change takes a long time but we need targets and results, she said.
When Chew said she was willing to discuss the matter with Chong outside the House, Fong Po Kuan (DAP Batu Gajah) said: This is a matter of national interest. Why do you want to chat silently outside?
On another matter, Chew said hermaphrodites were allowed to go for sex change surgery.
These people can choose whichever sex that is more dominant in them, she said
She added that the ministry did not have data on the number of hermaphrodites in the country.
She said the ministry was now conducting a study on the number of transvestites.
She was responding to Fadilah Yusof (BN Petra Jaya) who had proposed a separate gender category for hermaphrodites.
She said this would enable the ministry to be able to have a databank on such people.
When they reach puberty, their gender will be more obvious, she added.
With doctors verification, they can indicate to the National Registration Department that they are more inclined to become a male or female and be placed under the indeterminate hermaphrodites (khunsa musykil) category.