More Dayak female MPs, please

— DayakDaily.com

Commentary

With all the ongoing tussle between various individuals wanting to get selected as the candidate for the upcoming GE14, phrases like ‘the candidate must be a local’ and have ‘support of all ADUNs’ to deem them ‘winnable’ are getting tossed around like hay in a storm.

Admidst all the excitement, everyone seems to have overlooked the subject of not only gender equality, but also the micro category of race within gender representation. In this aspect, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) seems to have done quite well compared to other Barisan Nasional (BN) Sarawak component parties. As a start, out of its total 14 parliamentary seats, four women have been empowered to represent and speak up for their constituents. They are Rubiah Wang (Kota Samarahan), Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (Batang Sadong), Datuk Seri Rohani Karim (Batang Lupar) and Datuk Norah Abdul Rahman (Tanjong Manis) who represents nearly 30 per cent of overall parliamentary seat allocation for PBB.

While there are opinions that this 30 per cent is ‘progressively fair’, there are also opposing opinions that the representation is far from fair, as it is skewed and unequal. One DayakDaily reader pointed out that while PBB has four women MPs, none of them are from the Pesaka wing.

While PBB Bumiputra is willing enough to allocate four of its Bumiputra MP seat allocation for females, Pesaka being the largest Dayak party should lead by example, break the glass ceiling and put up at least one female Dayak candidate for a start.


Based on statistics revealed by Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah during the 2017 Women’s Day celebration, women make up 52 per cent of Sarawak’s registered voters. Should PBB decide to increase its percentage of female MP representation (and if all of the existing female PBB MPs are retained as candidates), then the allocation of seats for women this time round will have to come from Pesaka who has contributed zero to date.

Whether PBB’s Pesaka wing has any plans to field a female candidate in the upcoming GE14 is anybody’s guess. However, rumours about Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) fielding at least one female candidate this time round are increasingly finding traction on the ground. The rumours get even more convincing by the day especially when present Selangau MP Datuk Joseph Entulu confirmed that he will not be standing in GE14 as reported by a local Chinese daily recently. If there is any truth to this report, and if indeed a female (or two) will be fielded by PRS, then it will be the first time in Sarawakian political history that a Dayak female is given the chance to carry the BN flag in a general election.

Meanwhile, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) seems to have no plans to field a female candidate for Parliament so far. Despite being an urban-based party consisting of mostly town areas not lacking in educational facilities and learned female members, SUPP seems not to have found one woman candidate worthy of bearing the SUPP logo since the political downfall of its only state assemblywoman, Datuk Lily Yong who let Padungan slip through SUPP’s clenches in 2006.

Although being a predominantly Chinese-based party, the failure to translate Chinese rhetoric and support into actual votes at the ballot box over the years has seen Dayak politicians given prominent positions within the party, which otherwise was unheard of in the past. Despite all this, the rumours on the ground is that the tussle for seats within SUPP is ‘overwhelming’ and ‘too hot to handle’, to say the least.

With SUPP getting more dependent on votes from the non-Chinese to win, maybe it is time for the party to consider fielding a Dayak female face for a change.

As for Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), fielding female candidate is the least of their concerns now with Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom clamouring for the Saratok parliamentary seat like some kind of inherited birth right. Predominantly Dayak-based, the party has never fielded any female candidate, let alone a Dayak one. Maybe PDP should allocated Saratok to a female Dayak candidate from Saratok should the seat be ‘returned’ to PDP. That way, the ‘return’ of the seat will be a bonus to all! — DayakDaily