By Ajinder Kaur | MALAYSIA |
Lawyer and lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh has urged Malaysian Sikh women to join the political fraternity of the country.
While addressing a group of 50 ladies from the EKTA Club of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor at their business meeting in Kuala Lumpur last week, he said that there were many Sikh women who had the merit to contribute to Malaysian politics and serve the people.
“I see a lot of familiar faces here today. Some of you are fiercer in the courts than those in Parliament,” he quipped, referring to some lawyers in the group.
Ramkarpal, the Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament, said he had met many forward-thinking women who could make an impact and bring significant change; hence, there was no stopping these women to become the voice of other women and girls.
Ramkarpal rose into the political limelight when he won the Bukit Gelugor by-election in 2014 after the death of his father, the late Karpal Singh.
He retained the seat in the 2018 General Elections by a majority of 55,951 votes, the largest vote-majority in the state ever. On 18 July 2019, Ramkarpal was selected as chair of the Consideration of Bills Select Committee, a pertinent bipartisan committee which scrutinises bills at the Dewan Rakyat.
Women’s participation in politics has long been recognised as an important measure of the status of women in Malaysia and the trend in women running for political positions has seen a rise in recent years.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Political Empowerment Gender Gap Index, Malaysia ranks a dismal 131 out of 149 countries in strengthening women’s role and involvement in politics.
EKTA Club president Kuldip Kaur Gill said that many Sikh women have indeed stamped their mark in government agencies and corporate institutions.
“The next step forward is to make an impact in politics so that we are better represented, especially when it comes to decision making on policies that involve the female gender,” she added.
Kuldip recalled her growing up years in a political household in Seremban in the late-50s. Her dad, the late Gurnam Singh Gill, was the first state assemblyman for Rantau when he won the seat in 1959. He was a member of the opposition party Socialist Front and later served as president of the Seremban Town Council.
“I attended political ceramahs (rallies) in the padang (field) with my dad and we had many male politicians visit our home. Perhaps, more efforts should be made by political parties now to attract women members,” she said.
The EKTA Club is a registered NGO comprising of female Punjabi doctors, bankers, lawyers, academics, accountants, and homemakers. It provides a platform for its members to empower communities through welfare, medical, legal, youth development and lifelong learning outreach programmes.
Some of its initiatives include a free monthly legal advisory clinic at Gurdwara Sahib Sentul in Kuala Lumpur, women’s health and legal talks, medical first aid-CPR demonstrations, personal branding workshops and various contributions to underprivileged families.
[Ajinder Kaur is a member of EKTA Club]
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