EC: Time to take gender equity in elections seriously

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 26 Nov 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: It is time for Malaysia to look at more women participation in elections seriously and if need be, promulgate new laws to ensure this happens, says Election Commission (EC) chief Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.

He said this initiative would not require laws if all political parties were willing to draw up policies to ensure gender equity for women to take part in elections.

He also said the handling of fake news was another EC agenda which would not require new laws if people were educated.

There were already sufficient existing legislatures to deal with this issue, he added.

“We only have 14% (of elected women) in Parliament. In Pakistan, there are laws to give a 33% quota to women and political parties have to nominate 5% of women candidates to contest, ” he noted.

Azhar said there were also initiatives to allow transgenders to participate in elections.

“There are initiatives which require laws, but there are also initiatives which do not require new laws to be promulgated.

“Gender equity, for example, can be done through policies accepted by all parties but if policies do not work, then there is a need for a law to enforce it.

“We would love to create a narrative first. We will try to work on policies first, ” said Azhar.

He was speaking to the media at the Commonwealth Election Professionals Initiative Asia Training Programme, co-partnered and hosted by the EC here.

The five-day programme featured international experts discussing issues such as promoting sustainable electoral democracy, voter registration and gender equity in elections.

At the press conference, Azhar said although he was a victim of fake news, as seen during the Tanjung Piai by-election on Nov 16, he was more for “educating” rather than hauling up the perpetrators by laws.He added that Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had laws in place to deal with fake news that affected the country’s harmony.

On another matter, Azhar said EC would assist the court in presenting facts on what exactly took place in the Kimanis by-election.

“Statements that EC will make an appeal and protest is not true. We will still take part in court to explain the facts, ” said Azhar.

He also said EC was prepared for the Sarawak state elections despite not knowing when it would be held.

“We have already started preparing so that we will be ready when they call for snap state elections, ” said Azhar.

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