DAP Wanita is highly disappointed over the announcement of the new terms of the MAS CA by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.

Media Statement
by Fong Po Kuan

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday):
DAP Wanita is highly disappointed over the announcement of the new terms of the MAS CA by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.


Chan Kong Choy's comments that now, "the benefits provided by MAS for its cabin crew are the best in this region. Some airlines do not even allow their stewardesses to become pregnant at all", represents his lack of understanding of Article 8 in the Federal Constitution which says:


(1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

(2) Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or

carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.


To make matters worse, Chan's comment that there are other airlines that treats its staff more poorly reeks of ignorance and arrogance, as he obviously thinks that MAS employees should be thankful for the new terms.


We should be comparing MAS' contract with other airlines that recognise the importance of "no gender discrimination" policies, and we should be striving to match those airlines that provide equal opportunities to both sexes.


MAS' so-called "improved provisions" are hardly significant. They are still discriminating against stewardesses (non-supervisory level) over 40 years old who wish to continue flying until they are 55 just like their male colleagues. Under MAS' new terms, they will be relegated to ground jobs the type and location of the job to be decided by MAS.


When will MAS realise that experience and maturity are valuable and much-desired qualities in a workforce that has to deal with people from all walks of life? MAS must look beyond the superficial qualities of just having a "young and nubile" workforce and realise that its female employees can contribute much, much more to the company than

just looking "pretty".


MAS said it will allow stewardesses to have up to three children, but under the Employment Act, all women are allowed to have up to five children and entitled to paid maternity leave. At MAS, as soon as a stewardess is pregnant, they are allowed to work for the first two months but are then forced to take seven months of unpaid leave, with

no benefits at all!


The hopes of Malaysian women for equal treatment in the workplace have been further dashed due to the remarks of Women, Family and Social Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil , who described the new terms as "an improvement".

She said that the stewardesses knew the contract's limitations when they signed up to work under MAS, and that the new terms are " an improvement" and "we should be realistic".


MAS', as a government-linked company (GLC), has even more responsibilities than others to draw up a contract which is fair to its employees in the first place. No only that, MAS should be leading by example and prove it is a caring and responsible corporate company.


The fact that MAS, from the very beginning, has formulated a contract that discriminates against female employees, obviously means nothing to the government at all.


Shahrizat's statement sets a dangerous precedent for other companies, who may get the impression that discriminatory policies are acceptable. As a Cabinet Minister, this endorsement of discriminatory practices is a regression in our fight for gender equality. Her statement has taken us backwards, not forwards.


These two statements by our leaders reflects badly on our country and it is embarrassing situation, in light of the Prime Minister's call for an end to gender bias -- right after the NAM Meeting on the Advancement of Women held recently.

The success of MAS does not hinge on the fact that their employees are "PYT"s (pretty young things) but that the cabin crews are professional and dedicated in their work, despite the fact they have been discriminated against for all these years



* Fong Po Kuan, MP for Batu Gajah and DAP Wanita Organising Secretary