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Malaysia praised on women
Published on: Wednesday, September 04, 2013

JOHANNESBURG: Malaysia came in for particular praise at the ongoing 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference here for instituting changes that allowed the participation of more women in the political process, at least within the Commonwealth grouping.Commonwealth Sec-Gen Dr William Shija said it was affirmative action that indeed some political parties have put into the system to try to reach out to women candidate that have produced results.

"I have even met women elected representatives from Malaysia, including from the (opposition-run) State of Selangor," he said, adding that men needed to change because they sometimes influence parties to make political decisions like the shortlisting of candidates.

Dr Shija was responding to a question from an African woman parliamentarian at the oponing plenary who wanted to know if something more concrete could be done to impress upon the Commonwealth Heads of Government (Chogm) who would be meeting in November to be committed to achieving the Millenium Development Goal of 30pc women participation in decision-making.

Later, in an exclusive interview that he granted to the Daily Express, Dr Shija, who is from Tanzania and whose term ends in 2015, said he was also impressed by the many things that have taken place in Malaysia since independence more than 50 years ago.

Again pointing to the strong Malaysian presence at the meeting attended by close to 1,000 elected representatives from 53 former British colonies, Dr Shija said that among the many things that have taken place in Malaysia since independence was political maturity.

"I have seen here that the members who came in the entourage of the Malaysian Parliament Speaker (Tan Sri) Pandikar Amin included even opposition party members.

This, to me, is absolutely an expression of political maturity.

"I can see young Malaysians full of the spirit of expectation and fulfilment economically and politically. You have political parties which involve the opposition and people are free to form their own parties."

The 60-strong Malaysian delegation here is led by Pandikar. Besides his Deputy Datuk Ronald Kiandee, it comprises both Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament and opposition, including PKR and PAS leaders like Azmin Ali and Datuk Mahfuz Omar while all State Legislative Assemblies are also represented, except Kelantan, Perak and Perlis.

The Sabah side is led by Assembly Speaker Datuk Salleh Said Keruak and includes his Deputy Datuk Johnny Mositun and Assembly Secretary Datuk Bernard Dalinting.

The conference at the Sandton Convention Centre, was declared open by South African President Jacob Zuma.

It aims at drawing solutions to common problems faced by Commonwealth countries based on sharing of values, experiences and networking.

It hopes to achieve this by mobilising its parliaments, legislatures and staff to advance the cause of good democratic governance.



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