SERDANG: Both Barisan Nasional and the Opposition should field more female candidates in the upcoming general election, said Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie (pic).
"In the political arena, female representation in the national and state assemblies as well as Cabinet is too low at only 10.4%," said Heng at the Malaysia Chinese Women Entrepreneurs Association (MCWEA) gala dinner at Wisma Huazong on Thursday night.
Heng also called on more women to join politics.
"This is because the fastest and most effective way to protect and fight for women's rights is through political channels, through legislation and policies," she said.
She said that Wanita MCA's first national chief, Tan Sri Chow Poh Kheng, was an inspiring female politician and that she had made polygamy among non-Muslim couples illegal by championing a Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act amendment in 1983.
"She changed the fate of more than seven million non-Muslim women in the country, including me and all of you here," she said.
Heng urged the Government to further amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to make it compulsory for a non-Muslim spouse who converts to Islam unilaterally to resolve any subsequent marital disputes that arise in the civil court.
"This will clarify the legal powers and limitations of the Syariah courts, and ensure issues that surfaced after the spouse's conversion are resolved once and for all," she said.
She also urged the Government to take stern action against companies that have failed to increase female representation in management positions, including top management positions.
She said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had set a target in 2011 to ensure that women filled 30% of top leadership positions within a five year period.
Heng added that while the public sector has met the target by having women in 35.8% of top leadership positions, only 12% of the directors of listed companies are women.
"Some companies are saying they cannot find suitable candidates," Heng said, adding that this is not an excuse as there are plenty of educated women in the country's workforce.
Also present at the dinner was Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who received the National Heroine - Child Care and Protection Award from the (MCWEA) for her work with Permata.
Heng said the Permata programme spearheaded by Rosmah, who was the guest-of-honour, had set up 5,421 centres nationwide and benefited 53,497 preschool children, including those from the bottom 40% low-income households.
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