Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has defended himself for assuming the mantle of women, family and community development minister, instead of appointing a woman parliamentarian to the portfolio.
“This is only temporary. When we win the next election, we will put a woman minister in my place,” he told the Dewan Rakyat this morning during Question Time.
More important than who the minister is, he said, are the running of the ministry’s programmes and their effectiveness in improving the situation of women and other constituents.
“The development of women has reached record levels of success under (our watch),” he claimed.
Najib was replying a supplementary question by Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR-Ampang, left) as to why – in spite of the policy to ensure that women hold 30 percent of decision- making posts – a man heads the ministry responsible for implementing that policy.
“You can’t even put a woman in that ministry. There are many women representatives who are qualified for the role. This is making a mockery of women,” Zuraida said heatedly.
The post was vacated by Shahrizat Abdul Jalil on the heels of public outrage surrounding the RM250 million government soft loan to National Feedlot Corporation, which is run by her husband and children.
Zuraida argued that Najib, as premier and finance minister, would be too busy to do a proper job, and claimed that several policy matters on women’s development remain unresolved.
These include the plight of the Penan women in Sarawak, as well as realisation of the 30 percent quota for women in decision-making posts in the private sector.
Her outburst was met with apparent incredulity by Najib.
“YB, you don’t exemplify the polite behaviour of a woman. Her (Zuraida) mouth is quite formidable,” he said before succumbing to a fit of laughter.
“Our women are much better,” he added.
‘Hope of women’
Halimah Sadique (BN-Tenggara), in asking another supplementary question, asked Najib – who she described as the “hope of women” – for his commitment towards ensuring that there are more women in local government, state legislative assemblies and Parliament.
He replied that he would ask all state governments to increase the allocation for women in local government.
However, Najib was silent on whether he would similarly suggest that more seats be allocated for women in state assemblies and Parliament.