The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) expresses concern over Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof’s statement on the postponement of the next parliamentary sitting to 18 May 2020.
This will be over two months of delay from the initial date Parliament was meant to sit which was 9 March.
The developments over the last few weeks are calling into question Malaysia’s commitment to our parliamentary democratic process.
The manner in which this new government was formed has made many members of the public very anxious as it was not through the people’s mandate, but instead, a result of political parties shifting alliances to remove the majority support for the previous government.
As of the end of February, the (current) opposition to the Perikatan Nasional government maintains they have majority support.
There is also concern that the shifting of alliances will continue to happen if the matter is not resolved through the proper channels provided for under our Federal Constitution. For this reason, there is an urgent need for Parliament to convene as soon as possible.
We urge the prime minister to act within the parliamentary democratic process and ensure transparency and legitimacy of the democratic process so as to get the people’s confidence.
In lieu of a snap election, the role of Parliament becomes critical in gaining public acceptance of the new government.
As a result of the current political developments, we are concerned that the previous government’s reform agenda will not be carried through, be significantly delayed or at worst, regress.
This will have a dire impact on the progress towards strengthening women’s rights in Malaysia. For example, the Sexual Harassment Bill and the amendments to the Penal Code intended to criminalise stalking as well as the amendments to the Employment Act to strengthen protection for women in the workplace, scheduled to be tabled at the March parliamentary sitting, will have to be delayed.
The progress that we, civil service organisations and the government, have achieved over the last two years in putting in place a policy reform and legislative agenda to ensure enhanced rights and protections for women should not be in vain.
Hence, we call for the parliamentary sitting to be held soon to uphold the integrity and accountability to the people of Malaysia.
Endorsed by the following JAG member organisations:
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
- All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
- Association for Women Lawyers (AWL)
- Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (Sawo)
- Kryss Network
- Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
- Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
- Perak Women for Women (PWW)
- Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)