Sarawak CM: PBB only picks women candidates who have the blessing of their husbands

Sulok Tawie
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg (centre) speaks to reporters after chairing a state Cabinet meeting in Kuching August 22, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Aug 23 — Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) will only pick married women as election candidates if they have the support and approval of their husbands, its president Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg explained today.

He said this had been one of the criteria when picking married women as election candidates since the days of Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud as party president and chief minister.

“If the (married) women do not get the full understanding of their husbands, then we will not pick them,” Abang Johari said when responding to calls from women participants at a dialogue with him before the closing of the Women Leadership Training Programme here.

The women participants, among others, called on PBB and other component parties of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and the state government to ensure that 30 per cent of state and federal lawmakers in Sarawak are made up of women.

They also called on the state government to fill 30 per cent of the total number of councillors of the local councils and management of state-owned agencies with women.

Abang Johari, who is also the chief minister, said getting husbands’ blessing is important as PBB does not want to destroy the family institution with the involvement of women in active politics.

He said it would be hard for women to be lawmakers if they have young children who still depend on them, citing breastfeeding as an example.

He said PBB does not want married women to neglect their young children at a time when they need their mothers the most.

“Such a situation could lead to a misunderstanding between the women and their husbands,” he said.

Abang Johori said it would be “alright” to pick women as election candidates if their children have grown up and do not depend on their parents, especially mothers, as much.

“Despite that, we still need to have the understanding of their husbands,” he added.

“You know, when you are active in politics, you are often called to attend meetings, even at night. Sometimes, the meeting could last until late at night,” he said, adding they also have to visit their constituencies.

The chief minister said these are the realities faced by women who want to be active in politics.

Similarly, men also need the blessing of their wives before they can participate in politics, Abang Johari added.

The chief minister, however, stressed that women are given the full opportunities to participate in other fields, like in the state civil service or corporate world.

He said there are no restrictions for them in these fields so long as they are qualified.

He added women should not ask for a 30 per cent target in these fields, saying that they should aim higher as more women than men are entering tertiary education.

The chief minister said he expects more women to participate in all fields before 2030 as the state economy expands.

“I am not even surprised if one day, we have a woman as prime minister of Malaysia or even chief minister of Sarawak,” he added, stating that women have the right approach.

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