Excerpts from Wan Azizah’s interview


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 08 May 2019

Child marriages

The way Malaysia is governed, there are state governments and the Federal Government.

Certain things are under the state laws, the syariah law and we have challenges.

We have met with the Council of Rulers, we have done our part and we have already made steps to raise (the age) of child marriages, but it is not just the law.

You have the law but people can cross over to Sungai Golok and that’s it. And they say it’s (the marriage) valid (based on) the syariah law.

So we have to get to the root cause – poverty, education, parents, parenting is so important.

These are the things that you have to focus on.

It is not only the Muslim communities, but in Sabah and Sarawak too, customary laws and orang asli.

We met the Council of Rulers, the Prime Minister has also met at another level but as I said, the jurisdiction is still under the state governments.

i-Suri pension scheme for housewives

We are currently in discussions to develop the next phases of the i-Suri programme.

Under the first phase, the government will give monthly incentives to eligible contributors, but they must contribute at least RM5 monthly.

We might be entering the third phase where we need to change the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) regulations so that we can transfer 2% points of the husband’s existing 11% contribution to the wife’s account.

We also want some of the money to go towards Socso. Under this (phase of the programme), the government will add RM10 more to the monthly contribution for these housewives, making it a total of RM50 monthly.

B40 poverty trap

We don’t want the cycle of poverty to continue.

Under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, we have a 2 Years Exit Programme (2YEP) for welfare recipients who are productive so that they can be independent and not dependent on government for aid.

Through this programme, participants will be given a Launching Grant of RM2,700 and also courses, so that they will be able to attain skills training that suits their abilities.

We also focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes so that they will be more marketable when it come to getting jobs.

Cybersecurity

What we are stressing on is managing the national security, including cybersecurity. I was given a briefing and a monitor where I could see cyberattacks from overseas.

This is important, especially for our banking systems and security.

We have the Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy and we are setting it up now to optimise expertise and resources as well as move as one team to form a National Cyber Workforce.

We also need to have a national awareness plan involving government agencies, the private sector, industries and NGOs which we will launch at the end of this year.

Internationally, we also work with Australia and Russia to develop the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) Cyber Security Work Plan, which is a cooperation in cybersecurity among ARF member countries. This is the cyberpoint of contact and all so we can have cybernetworking. This is important for the future of our country.

Child sex offenders registry

Getting the system going is already a good achievement. The issue of data sharing is one of the challenges we have.

Because we have privacy laws and we also don’t want to create slander. We must check properly. We got the list of those who were found guilty (of sexual offences) and convicted.

But it is only for sexual offences and not the whole (convicts) list. We have the list but people must use it.

If the childcare centre operators do not do any checks, then how can we help?

We came up with the list and we want to encourage the people to use this resource. We have a problem because all this (information about child sex offenders) is not online. Our courts keep hard copies of documents and we have to look through one by one. The online system (for courts) only started in 2017.

Her role after her husband becomes Prime Minister

It has come back almost like a whole circle (when Anwar was the then deputy prime minister). But now, somehow I have been thrown into this decision and this responsibility.

So I think I will be more helpful. I’m not going into active politics I think until I finish my term. But it’s important to be a very responsible citizen of Malaysia. And having been where I’ve been and what I’ve gone through, I think I can contri­bute and I should. That’s my role I think. I’ve always been supporting (husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibra­him) all my life. Last time I was working in a hospital and I was more involved in being a doctor. Now I will probably be more in­­volved in looking over his (Anwar’s) shoulder (laughing).

I don’t think so (being actively involved in politics after Anwar becomes prime minister).

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