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Standpoints

Betting on PN's plans for women

A Chinese single mother in Selangor tells why she has decided to vote for Perikatan Nasional at the upcoming state polls.

Jenny Wong
3 minute read
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Last weekend, Mohamed Azmin Ali launched Perikatan Nasional's (PN) "Selangor Baharu" manifesto. I read it, and the section on women stood out to me. I also read Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional's (PH-BN) "Kita Selangor" manifesto launched by Amiruddin Shari, and it did not have a section focused solely on women. That alone was a sore point for me, a self-confessed feminist and liberal and a big fan of Siti Kasim.

I have to be honest and say that I am attracted to PN's manifesto for Selangor, especially the section on women, as much as I am cautious about the racist and religious rhetoric coming from the coalition. Nevertheless, I am smart enough to know that campaign rhetoric is just that – rhetoric. But a manifesto is a promise, which is something we can hold a government accountable for.

When Azmin was the Selangor menteri besar, he kept to all his promises. I still vividly remember how he returned Bibles to the Christians and even hosted a Christmas party at Padang Timur MBPJ near Amcorp Mall. As a Christian, that heartened me and made me and my family feel included in this multiracial country. Racist and religious rhetoric is coming from all sides, including PH-BN, so the green wave is not as worrisome.

As a working-class but educated full-time working Chinese single parent recently widowed and trying to make ends meet with a monthly salary less than RM4,500, my two immediate concerns are the economy and my son's education. Azmin's manifesto, especially the section on women, touched me.

So what did Azmin promise? He promised five core offers.

1. RM500 birth incentive to every Selangor woman, regardless of race under B40. I fall into this category.

2. Single mothers, including those recently widowed or divorced, can apply for RM500 a month for three consecutive months, receive counselling and motivation sessions, and take up-skilling and mentoring courses. I fall into this category, too.

3. A maximum of RM50,000 in start-up capital and seed money to start a cottage industry. I may have to apply for this as a second income stream.

4. A one-off RM10,000 matching grant for women entrepreneurs. I do not need a grant as I am not an entrepreneur, but my sister might, as she runs a small business from home.

5. A quota for 30% women participation in key positions in the Selangor government and its agencies.

However, out of the 35 PN Selangor offers, the one that stood out the most for someone in my current situation is the main offer of 20 childcare centres opened a year for Selangorians, which is equivalent to 100 centres for the next five years, for a total of 65,000 children. My four-year-old son should qualify, and if I choose not to send him to a childcare centre, I can claim an incentive of RM150 to help top up the exorbitant fees of my neighbourhood childcare centre.

I have voted for PKR or DAP all my life, but this Saturday, I will vote for PN. I need to ensure my son's immediate needs and mine are met, and when PN governs, I will hold Azmin to his promises. Amiruddin has not convinced me that he knows what he is doing or has done. Azmin proved himself before, and I am betting on him to deliver again.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.