Monday, April 20, 2009

Strict Enforcement, Room-conversion to Ensure Safe and Enabling Work Environment for Women Tourist Guides

Press Statement by Wanita MCA

Strict Enforcement (Protective & Efficient Management to Prevent Gender Discrimination), Room-conversion to Ensure Safe and Enabling Work Environment for Women Tourist Guides

Wanita MCA lauds the recent strong message and stern warning by the Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen on 14 April 2009 (The Sun Daily; The Star On-line) that errant tour operators or tour agents who compel their female tour guides to share rooms with their male counterparts will have their licenses revoked with effect from 1 June 2009.

Zero-tolerance on room-sharing was reiterated following the meeting chaired by YB Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen on 16 April 2009 with the similar announcement made by her on 14 April 2009, the second (2nd) day she reported her duty as the Minister of Tourism.

YB Dato’ Dr Seri Ng Yen Yen’s expressed non-tolerance on any forms of discrimination against women tourist guides consistent with principle of non-discrimination and gender equality as enshrined under Article 8(2) Federal Constitution is also highly commendable. YB Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen’s emphasis that the Ministry would not hesitate to revoke licenses if women were penalized and not employed arising from this policy of no room-sharing between genders illustrates her resolute commitment in ensuring a harmonious work environment for all in the tourism industry.

Stern warning and in particular invoking of the power of Minister which is not often used by a Minister may in effect be the light at the end of the tunnel for women tour guides who have been facing the problem of room sharing all these years. Since the Malaysian Women Tourist Guide Association (MWTGA) approached Wanita MCA November last year, we have been actively assisting MWTGA through various ways such as garnering support from the previous and present Minister of Tourism, facilitating meetings with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and key industry players, drafting of a memorandum highlighting the plight of women tourist guides including documenting of case studies of women tourist guides who were subjected to the risk of harassment and violence.

We welcome the commitment of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) in promoting, regulating and getting the support of their fellow members in response to 1) our proposal on room-conversion and 2) a letter which will be issued by the ministry under the instruction of YB Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen to consider i) converting a reasonable number of hotel rooms into hostel-like accommodation for hotels planning on renovation or refurbishment and ii) building hostels for employees in the tour-guiding industry in an effort to ensure separate room accommodation according to gender for tour guides and drivers. This good practice of hostel-like accommodation for separate genders is currently an industry norm in other countries such as Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan.

Wanita MCA would like to remind that creating a safe work environment for all including women tourist guides is imperative. Good practices such as conversion of rooms into hostel/dormitory style as practised in other countries would elevate the image of Malaysia’s tourism industry. We would like to once again congratulate the Minister for her prompt action and this only proves that with more women in decision making, gender equality will become a reality!

Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun
National Chairperson of Wanita MCA

No comments: