Friday, January 9, 2009

Nod from ministry enables female tourist guides to renew licences independently

The Star On Line: Thursday January 8, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Women Tourist Guides Association (MWTGA) has received the Tourism Ministry’s green light to become an autonomous body after its application to be affiliated with a national tourism body was rejected.

The independent status, obtained last month, enables the 110 members of the association to renew their licences without having to fulfil the ministry’s previous requirement of being the Malaysia Tour Guide Council affiliate.

At a joint press conference with the association, Wanita MCA chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said that although the matter of renewing their licence had been resolved, rejecting the application for affiliation was unreasonable and unconstitutional.

She said the application was rejected because affiliations were to be granted only to a geographical region such as state or the federal territory and the fact that the council did not want to promote or encourage an element of “gender segregation”.

“The grounds provided by the council are discriminatory on the basis of gender and unconstitutional, contravening Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution which prohibits any form of discrimination on the basis of gender,” said Chew at Wisma MCA yesterday.

MWTGA president Erina Loo said the association wanted a healthy and safe working environment for female tourist guides.

“It (room-sharing) has always been a major problem for us. When we request for separate rooms, we are usually sidelined when assignments are given,” she said, demanding an apology from the council for rejecting their application.

When contacted, council president Jimmy Leong said the rejection was based on the council’s constitution that there could be no two national bodies of the same type at the same time.

“As a professional organisation, we cannot have gender segregation in the council. For example, we don’t have two separate Bar Councils for female and male lawyers, do we? It’s just not possible,” he said, refusing to apologise.

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