KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — Charles Santiago today reminded his fellow Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers of the need to push forward with their reform agenda for gender equality following controversy over the Women’s Day march in the capital city last Saturday.
The DAP MP for Klang said the women demonstrators had voted for the coalition in the last general election hoping for empowerment, but some of his PH allies had responded by diverting the issue to another matter during the march.
“Many of them had voted for Pakatan Harapan, believing we will bring about the balance that’s very much needed to push forward with the empowerment of women in the country.
“Are we going to disappoint them?” he asked in a statement.
Charles who is also a member of the parliamentary select committee on human rights and gender equality declared his pledge of solidarity with the organisers of the Saturday march.
He urged his PH peers to focus on fulfilling the demands of by the demonstrators instead of being waylaid by the calls by advocates of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community, another minority group that had also participated in the march as a show of solidarity for gender equality.
“The Pakatan Harapan government has a duty to protect and promote the interest of women from the LGBT community, the aboriginal communities, poor communities, disenfranchised communities, women with disabilities and many more,” he said.
He stressed that “the march wasn’t used to promote the LGBT community, but instead to cease the increasing violence against the minority community, in accordance with Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which says there should be no discrimination on the grounds of gender.”
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa had expressed his shock that the Women’s Day march had been supposedly misused as an avenue to “defend things that are wrong in the religion of Islam”, after several media reported on calls for the rights of the LGBT community during the rally outside the Sogo shopping centre.
The highlight on the LGBT issue has since overshadowed the demands by the women marchers amid calls for police reports to be filed against the organisers nationwide.