The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) strongly condemns the removal of qualified women leaders in various government-linked companies and other organisations under the Perikatan Nasional government without a valid explanation.
Such a move is a clear step backwards for the meaningful participation of women in leadership and decision-making. It does not bode well for the country.
Since Perikatan Nasional came to power in March 2020, many women leaders have been abruptly terminated and removed from their positions despite their vast experiences and excellent credentials. Some of the women leaders who have been removed from their positions are:
- Hasnita Hashim, terminated from her position as Mara chairperson in March 2020. Hasnita holds a PhD in nuclear physics from Oxford University and has over 25 years of experience in global financial management
- Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, terminated from her position as Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) chairperson in March 2020. Noor Farida is a former ambassador of Malaysia to Netherlands and has had a long and distinguished career in public service as a judge and legal adviser. She also has headed the law reform committee of the National Council of Women’s Organisations Malaysia
- Noripah Kamso, terminated from her position as Bank Rakyat chairperson in April 2020. Noripah has vast experience in finance and specialises in the growth of Islamic asset management. Under her leadership, Bank Rakyat recorded a steady performance with a net profit of RM1.15bn for the year ended 31 December 2019 and a profit before tax and zakat of RM1.79bn
- Nurini Kassim, terminated from her position as Bernama CEO in May 2020. She was the first woman appointed as Bernama CEO and has 20 years of experience in management in various industries including government institutions, regulatory finance, IT and public relations and corporate affairs. She holds an MBA (masters in business administration) from the University of Hull and a BSc (hons) from Oxford Brookes University
The move to terminate Dr Narimah Awin as chairperson of the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) by Perikatan Nasional is bizarre and baffling at the same time considering her experience in the medical field is extensive compared to her replacement, Mohd Nizar Zakaria, the Member of Parliament and Umno leader at Parit who has no medical background nor any experience or expertise in family planning and women’s reproductive health.
Narimah holds a masters in public health from the University of Philippines and has 30 years of experience in the Ministry of Health. Her last post in the ministry was director of the family health development division in 2007. She has vast experience in family and reproductive health, both locally and internationally. Narimah was a fellow in the Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association in 2012, member of the Academy of Medicine Malaysia and regional advisor (maternal and reproductive health) at the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the South East Asia region in 2013.
LPPKN focuses on women and family health, fertility and family planning, and Narimah has served in this position well. She also appears to be the better candidate to continue to do so as she has shown great understanding and appreciation for women’s lived realities and has worked hard to address the various challenges faced by women and families in enjoying the highest standards of health.
JAG has increasing concerns about the ongoing replacement of highly qualified leaders with political appointees in government-linked companies and now in LPPKN. Women’s representation in decision-making has been substantially eroded under the current government.
It is well established that women’s representation and participation is critical for the making of policies, laws and programmes that fully consider women’s lived realities so that these policies, laws and programmes offer effective solutions to ongoing challenges and problems.
While there has been a general removal in the corporate sector for men and women, there is a concern that their replacements are political appointees with no obvious credibility and experience to do the job. JAG is concerned about the gender imbalance in leadership positions as it will have a long-term impact on the progress of women which will, in turn, affect the economy and Malaysia’s recovery after the movement contol order. Women’s empowerment and agency will eventually translate into economic gains for Malaysia.
The act of removing qualified women from leadership positions and replacing them with non-qualified individuals by the Perikatan Nasional government is irrational. We at JAG demand that the government ensures the continued participation of women in government and government agencies and further that Dr Narimah be reinstated as chairperson of LPPKN.
Endorsed by the following JAG member organisations:
- Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
- All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
- Justice for Sisters (JFS)
- Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (Kryss)
- Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
- Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
- Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
- Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)