GEORGE TOWN, Jan 25 — The Penang government’s “Top-up Women-Only Additional Seats” (TWOAS) initiative to reach 30 per cent female representation at the state legislative assembly could lead to abuse of power and stifle democracy, said Penang Gerakan.
Penang Gerakan Wanita spokesman Heng See Lin said the TWOAS initiative would allow female representatives to be appointed to meet the 30 per cent female representation quota and these appointed assemblymen would have equal voting rights in the legislative assembly.
“It is fair that we question the possibility of abuse of power and possible oppression of the Opposition front through this TWOAS mechanism,” she said.
The recently launched TWOAS initiative allows for women to be nominated based on the percentage of popular votes obtained by a party through their candidates that took part in an election.
Under the TWOAS mechanism, if there are six elected female assemblymen out of 40 assembly seats, nine other women will be appointed to “top-up” the number to 15.
This would expand the assembly to 49 seats, which would allow the 15 female representatives to constitute 30.5 per cent or just above the quote.
The state announced the initiative on December 10 last year and recently set up a TWOAS special committee. It is set to be tabled at the legislative assembly this year end.
Heng said the Pakatan Harapan state government had always fought for democracy and was against abuse of power but this initiative is far from either of these values.
“While I don’t object to a 30 per cent female representation in the legislative assembly but this mechanism to appoint more assemblymen to meet the quota will only serve to destroy the country’s democratic system and this could lead to abuse of power,” she said.
She said the issue with the 30 per cent female representation quota could be resolved if the respective political parties were to nominate more female candidates for the general election.
“If there are more female candidates, I believe the number of elected female representatives will also increase so if DAP wants more female assemblymen, they should nominate more female candidates,” she said.
She said the current democratic system allows the people to take part in politics, to vote, to voice out and give their views on any policy that is being introduced.
“This mechanism of appointing female assemblymen in the state assembly was based on the percentage of popular votes of a certain party. So, if Pakatan Harapan gets 67 per cent, Barisan Nasional 22 per cent and PAS 9.7 per cent, this means each party will get six, two and one additional seats respectively to make up 30 per cent of female representation in the state assembly,” she said.
“Where is the democracy in this system?” she asked.
She hoped the PH state government will not use this TWOAS mechanism as part of its “report card” to the voters which could undermine democracy in the state.
“The appointment of female representatives will not resolve the lack of female representation in the state assembly but will instead create issues such as abuse of power which will arise once this mechanism is implemented,” she said.
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