Wanita MCA EXCO convened our regular meeting and express our position on the following 2 issues:
Issue 1: Holistic Approach in enforcing payment under Maintenance Order
We laud the government’s efforts in recognising hardship faced by Muslim single mothers whose husband default in payment under maintenance order with the recently approved allocation of RM15million to aid Muslim going through divorce to support their children as announced by Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom on 11 January 2010 and subsequently by Syariah Judicial Department Family Support Division Deputy Director Dr Mohd Naim Mokhtar Dr Mohd Naim that the aid would be in the form of cash advances and for a duration of 6 months (The Star 21 Jan 2010).
Noting that we live in a country rich with ethnic, cultural and religious diversities and in line with the spirit of 1 Malaysia, we stress that it is of critical importance to recognise that women irrespective of ethnicity or religion face similar hardships in the course of marital breakdown and particularly when their husband fails to fulfil his obligations under the maintenance order.
We urge the government to give recognition to non-Muslims who experience similar hardships in the civil courts just like their Muslim sisters in the Syariah courts when their husband defies the maintenance order. It is important to note that, even where a non-muslim single mother spends time and money to enforce the maintenance order in accordance to existing civil court procedures, there is likelihood where her husband defaults in payment of the maintenance order. As a short term measure, we hope that similar measure would be extended to aid non-Muslim single mothers who endure the same predicament as their Muslim sisters.
Of late, we have received some feedback from the communities in response to the announcement of such an available aid to Muslim single mothers. Wanita MCA Political Strategy Bureau has met up with several women NGOs to discuss this issue. Drawing from the discussion, we have the same view as Women’s Aid Organisation, Sisters in Islam and Wilayah and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Women’s Wing and a practising family lawyer on the need to set up a taskforce to look into instituting a child and/or family support system to assist and support single parents especially children as a long term measure. We have since conveyed to the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Seri Shahrizat Jalil this idea of setting up a technical working group to look into a holistic approach in enforcing payment under maintenance order and pleased to inform that the Minister is positive with our proposal.
Issue 2: Extend TEKUN loan to Chinese and other ethnic groups
We laud the extension of TEKUN loan to Indian communities with the initial allocation of RM3million in 2008. Increased allocation to RM 15 million in 2009 and RM 20 million for 2010 reflects government’s acknowledgement of the need to extend TEKUN loans to Indian communities.
In the spirit of 1 Malaysia, we urge the government to open up or set aside similar funds like the TEKUN loan to all Malaysians and especially to women. This would be in tandem with the government’s concerted efforts in raising living standards of low-income households under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) Roadmap and in line with the spirit of 1 Malaysia.