Women should  give full meaning to the International Women’s Day by being in the very forefront for the economic,  political and social achievement for all Malaysians regardless of gender, race or religion

Media Conference Statement
at the Ipoh Wholesale Market on the occasion of the International Women’s Day
by Lim Kit Siang

(Ipoh, Tuesday): On the occasion of the International Women's Day (IWD)  on March 8, which  is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women, I wish to call on Malaysian women to give full meaning to this occasion by being in  the very forefront for the economic, political and social achievement of all Malaysians regardless of gender, race or religion . 

In Parliament on 17th January 2005, I had specifically called for the appointment of Justice Datuk Siti Norma Yaakob, who had been bypassed thrice for promotion to the three highest judicial offices in the land, to the vacancy of  the Chief Judge of Malaya.


Her appointment as Chief Judge of Malaya last month is another “history” for Malaysian women and herself, being the first woman High Court judge to be elevated in 1983,  who went on to  become the first woman Court of Appeal Judge in 1994 and first woman Federal Court judge in 2001.


Although Malaysian women are comparatively more advanced than many other countries, there are still many “glass ceilings” for Malaysian women to break, such as the first woman University Vice Chancellor and  the first woman Chief Secretary  - and we are still a long way when compared to countries like New Zealand, where the four top constitutional posts are all held by women: Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Parliament Speaker Margaret Wilson and Chief Justice Sian Elias.


However, to give full meaning to the International Women’s Day, women in Malaysia should stand up for the economic, political and social achievement and advancement without discrimination whether gender, race or  religion, for it is only by striving for the full recognition of the worth and dignity of every human being regardless of gender, race or religion that we can create “towering Malaysians” in every aspect of national endeavour.


If we want to see “towering Ministers”, “towering Parliamentarians”, “towering judges”, “towering public servants”, “towering educationists” as well as “towering institutions” whether the Cabinet, Parliament, Judiciary, Public Service, Universities, Police Force, Anti-Corruption Agency, etc, the nation must be prepared to make use of the Ninth Malaysia Plan to phase out all forms of  subsidy mentality to give way to the restoration of a system of meritocracy coupled with social need untainted by any form of gender, racial or religious discrimination.


The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament last week  that the political “honeymoon” is over and that the people expected results.  Abdullah’s “honeymoon” as the new Prime Minister ended long ago, as the “First Hundred Days” is the normal period for a political honeymoon and Abdullah is now in the 17th month of his premiership.


2005 is in fact a “breakthrough” or “make-or-break”  year for Abdullah, for Malaysians want to see delivery of his pledge to lead a clean, incorruptible, efficient, trustworthy, accountable and people-oriented government.


Although we are from different political parties, we are all Malaysians and we want Abdullah to succeed in his promise of political, economic and government reform and the battle against corruption – and we will give him full support to fulfill his pledges.


Last month, I had suggested the convening of an all-party roundtable conference to develop a national consensus on a dozen vital issues to create a nation, not just of towering Malays, towering Chinese or towering Indians, but of   towering Malaysians imbued with “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality”, fully backed-up by towering institutions, whether Parliament, judiciary, educational, economic or civic.


I hope Abdullah would give this proposal serious consideration because it would be one  effective way for him to  bridge the present disconnect between the reality and rhetoric of  his political, economic and government reform and to begin to deliver his pledges as the Fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia and his 11th General Election slogan of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman