PETALING JAYA: Social activist Marina Mahathir today ticked off former minister Rafidah Aziz for urging Malaysians to focus on quality instead of gender in seeking more women representation in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) cabinet.
Marina noted that Rafidah, a former international trade and industry minister, had not defined what she meant by quality.
“There are many women who have merit and so it’s illogical not to put them in positions which they deserve,” she said at a forum broadcast live on the Sisters In Islam (SIS) Facebook page.
Rafidah’s remark was a response to criticisms that the new government had not appointed enough women to the Cabinet despite promising a 30% target in the PH election manifesto.
Marina claimed it was usually women who had succeeded in their careers who did not like the idea of quotas for women.
She said they were often silent about the struggles they had to face in order to get to where they were merely because of their gender.
Rafidah, she said, hated the idea of quotas too.
“There are usually stories where women are set aside merely because a man was competing for the same post or such.
“These women don’t want to think about all that and instead focus on the fact that they reached where they are from their own sweat.”
Marina said these women needed to understand that the issue was bigger than themselves.
“If she’s the only one who succeeds and nothing is gained for women in general out of her success, then what’s the point? It’s not about individual cases, we want opportunities for all women.
“It’s not fair for women to think ‘if I did it then other women can do it too’ because not all women come from the same background or are competing on a level playing field.”
Meanwhile, Sharifah Syahirah Syed Sheikh, a political analyst at Kolej Poly-Tech Mara who was also present, said there was an array of talents from women candidates who won seats in the recent general election.
She mentioned in particular Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin.
“All of them have at least degrees and in majors such as electrical and electronic engineering (Nurul Izzah) and chemical engineering (Yeo),” she said. “Is that not merit?”