Daily Express
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OF EAST MALAYSIA
Established since 1963
Special Reports

Published on: Sunday, November 07, 2010

Woman State Sec not ruled out
By: Mary Chin

THE CM was asked by Daily Express whether he could foresee a woman being made State Secretary in the next 10 to 15 years.

He reassured women of a place in the society in Sabah.

"As far as the State Government is concerned, there will always be chances for women to be promoted accordingly. I will never hesitate to elevate them to decision-making positions if there is a chance from time to time.

"Our State Treasurer is also a lady. I find that they (women officers) work very well being hard-working and committed. I am happy with their work performance. I have confidence in women's capabilities, just like (Datuk) Margaret Fung who was CEO of Sabah Energy Corporation.

"I think there are more to come as long as they are willing to work and contribute to the State," he had said. Fung has since retired.

Currently, there are five women holding Jusa (Premier Grade in the Public Sector) posts in the State Civil Service, namely Deputy State Secretary (Administration), Datuk Maznah Abdul Ghani, Deputy State Attorney-General, Datuk Josie Bosi, State Treasurer Chui Nget Ngo, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Suzannah Liaw and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Community Development and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Asnimar Hj Sukardi. Asnimar is also the Chairperson of Sabah Women's Advisory Council (MPWS).

Maznah succeeded Noni when the latter retired in 2006. Last year, she was the first woman to be elected Chairperson of the Sabah Government Employees Co-operative Society Bhd (Kopeks), and she has turned the then ailing co-operative around. Whether Maznah will be succeeded by a woman when she calls it a day from the civil service, is left to be seen.

Sabah's sole woman district officer is Luvita Koisun who previously served as Matunggong Assistant District Officer and earlier, as Penampang Assistant District Officer upon her return from studies overseas.

There are only two women permanent secretaries at the moment - Datuk Asnimar Hj Sukardi (Ministry of Community Development & Consumer Affairs) and Datuk Suzannah Liaw (Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment). Likewise, we have only two women deputy permanent secretaries - Janet Chee (Ministry of Community Development & Consumer Affairs) and Maureen Datuk Balanggung (Ministry of Industrial Development).

As for the number of women directors (or heads of department) and women deputy directors in the State Civil Service, you can actually count with your fingers. Among the directors are Datuk Hjh Siti Sapoo Hj Ahok (Sabah Women's Affairs Department); Fatimah Jaafar (Science & Technology Unit, Chief Minister's Department); and Natalie Fung (Sabah Skills & Technology Centre). Majella Tan Marquez is Deputy Director of the Sabah State Archives.

Women's presence is also felt in several divisions of the Finance Ministry.

Janice Lim is Under Secretary in the Finance & Economy Division while Magdalena Koah is its Principal Assistant Secretary. Jasmine Teo is the Principal Assistant Secretary in the Budget Division.

In fact, there are at least five women Principal Assistant Directors after Deputy Director Teo Poh Loon in the State Economic Planning Unit (Upen).

They are Datin Danna O Ontol (Agriculture), Dr Mariana Tinggal (Industry), Shamsiah Hj Jirat (Tourism & Environment), Catherine Ubu (Privatisation) and Chee Shok Ting (Budget & Development).

Working her way up the hierarchy, Datin Salwah Datuk Hj Abu Bakar Titingan is now the Principal Assistant Secretary in the Administration & Finance Division of the Chief Minister's Department (JKM).

At least three women are principal assistant directors in the State Public Services Department (JPAN).

They are former Lahad Datu and Kota Marudu District Officer, Jane Tan (Human Resource & Management Service Division); Halizah Bustamam (Corporate Planning); and Hjh Habibah Durasin (Competency Management). In addition, 14 other women hold the post of Assistant Director in the various divisions of the department. On top of it, six women are chief clerks in the department alone.

According to the Federal Secretary to Sabah, Datuk Mohammad Hatta Ab. Aziz, 12 women are heads of department in the Federal Civil Service.

Of the figure, eight are from Sabah and the rest from the Peninsula.

Among the women directors is Hjh Siti Aishah Mohd Asri at the helm of the Labour Department.

Hjh Maimunah Hj Suhaibul is the Deputy Director of Education.

And in the State Health Department, Norlida Md Darus, who previously headed the department's Food Safety & Quality Unit as Principal Assistant Director, is now its Deputy Director. Dr Maria Suleiman is the Principal Assistant Director of the department's Public Health Division and she also heads its Epidemiology Unit. This division has three other units, each headed by a woman Principal Assistant Director: Dr Khamisah Awang (HIV/AIDS Unit); Dr Azli Hani Abd Hadi (Occupational & Environmental Health Unit); and Puspawati Mohamed (Nutrition Unit).

Today, Wan Maria Othman Lee is the General Manager (Corporate) of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).

Previously, she was Deputy Director-General of Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) from 2005 to 2009.