Speech by Parliamentary Oppositios Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, when opening the Wanita DAP forum on “Women and Gender discriminative laws” at Towne House Hotel, Penanag on Saturday, 2nd April 1994 at 7pm.
Why has the Minister for National Unity and Community Development, Datuk Napsiah Omar, been silent in the past week on the indiscriminate arrest of 1,200 Filipino maids outside St. John’s Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur?
The Sixth Malaysia Plan 1991- 1995 devoted a special chapter on “Women in Development”, where it declared that the Government’s 1989 National Policy for Women (NPW) would be implemented through a Plan of Action, among the proposals which would be put into effect are:
*strengthen the national machinery to address women’s issues;
*reorientate the institutional process for the planning, implementation and monitoring of Government, policies and programmes to accommodate women’s concerns;
*raise public awareness and sensitize the Government bureaucracy with regard to women’s concerns; and
*activate NGO’s in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of soxio-economic programmes;
*redress problems of discrimination and promote affirmative action for the benefit of women in particular.
However, in the Mid-Term Review of the Sixth Malaysia Plan which was presented to Parliament last December, there was no review of the progress made in the past three years to implement these five recommendations of the Government’s National Policy for Women.
When Napsiah Omar is not sufficiently ‘sensitized’ to women’s problems, how can the police, immigration and other regulatory agencies be expected to be more ‘sensitized”?
The omission must be deliberate, for a review would show that the Government had not been serious in implementing the five-point proposals of the National Policy for Women.
For instance, if the proposal to “sensitize the Government bureaucracy with regard to women’s concerns” had been effectively carried out, the shocking episode last Sunday where 1,200 Filipino maids were indiscriminately arrested outside St. John’s Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur wpuld not have happened.
There were serious allegations that at the point of arrest, Filipina maids were manhandled by the 100 personnel from the Police, Immigration and City Hall Enforcement Unit, who were all male except for one woman officer.
If the Police, Immigration and City Hall Enforcement Unit had been sufficiently ‘sensitized’ to women’s problems, they would have ensured that only women officers would be deployed to detain women, so as to avoid incidents and complaints of manhandling of women by men personnel.
However, it would appear that not only had the Government failed to implement the NPW recommendations to ‘sensitize the Government bureaucracy with regard to women’s concerns’, the Minister for National Unity and Community Development , Datuk Napsiah Omar, herself is not yet ‘sensitized’ to women’s concerns.
Otherwise, how could Datuk Napsiah keep silent for the past week on the indiscriminate arrest of 1,200 Filipino maids, when it had not only created an outcry by NGOs in Malaysia, but has also become an international issue, with the Chairman of the Philippine Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Blas Ople demanding on apology from Malaysia!
As the Minister concerned, Datuk Napsiah should have been the loudest voice in the country when the Government bureaucracy had showed its utter insensitivity to women’s concerns, as in the indiscriminate arrest of 1,200 Filipino maids by an all-male team except for the presence of one women officer.
If Napsiah Omar is not sufficiently ‘sensitized’ to women’s problems, how can the police, immigration and the other regulatory agencies in government be expected to be more ‘sensitized’?
Napsiah Omar should raise the issue of the indiscriminate arrest of 1,200 Filipino maids and serious allegations of manhandling of the maids in Cabinet next Wednesday so as to ‘sensitize’ the Cabinet on women’s problems.
DAP calls for assurance tha Domestic Violence Bill will be presented in Parliament for adoption this month
It is because of the failure of the government to implement the National Policy for Women proposals to strengthen the machinery and sensitize the public and the government bureaucracy to address women’s issues and problems that the Government had failed to introduce in Parliament the various legislation close to the heart of women activitists and organizations so as to give greater social, economic and legal protection to women in the country.
One such legislation is the Domestic Violence Bill, which had been discussed for the past ten years but has not reached Parliament yet.
DAP calls on Napsiah to give a firm assurance that the Domestic Violence Bill will be presented to Parliament for adoption this month, as there is enough delay on this piece of legislation.