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Media statement by Teresa Kok Suh Sim in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 8th March 2011:

March 8th International Women's Day remind Malaysians of the need to continue pushing for political reform and the role that women must play in it

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day where we remember the struggle for gender equality in the world.

It also marks the 3rd year anniversary of the momentous day when Malaysians, men and women, went to the ballot box and denied Barisan Nasional their longstanding 2/3rd majority in the Dewan Rakyat and gave the Pakatan Rakyat coalition the mandate in which to govern in five states i.e. Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kelantan and Terengganu. This mandate has allowed positive change and reform occurring at the state government level.

The juxtaposition of these two important events remind us of the essential role which women must play in all aspects of society, particularly politics. As the Chinese proverb goes, "Women hold up half the sky".

Women make up half the population and voters in Malaysia. Therefore, it is critical that women be concerned about, express their views on and take a stand in politics.

Without female participation in politics, the needs and perspective of women will be neglected in our policy-making.

Thus, we should be concerned that Malaysia's record of participation of women in politics is appallingly low. For every female MP who sits in the Dewan Rakyat, there are ten male MPs. It gets worse in the Malaysian cabinet. There are only two female Ministers in the entire cabinet and they are outnumbered fourteen to one.

In pushing for political reform, Malaysians can take a leaf from the recent Jasmine Revolution in the Middle East where men and women were determinedly stood up for the better country.

I therefore disagree with the authoritarian statement and veiled threat by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who is reported to have repeatedly said, "The Jasmine Revolution will not be tolerated."

While I do not seek revolution for Malaysia, I do seek reform in terms of institutional reform, reform of our judiciary, reform of our legislature, reform in our media freedom, reform in our civil liberties and reform in human rights.

Since the process of change has begun since March 8th 2008, on this auspicious day, I urge all Malaysians, especially women, to continue this process to build a better Malaysia for our children and our children's children.

* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, Secretary of DAP Wanita, Selangor State Senior EXCO for Investment, Industry & Trade & MP for Seputeh



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