Deputy minister: Slash open house budgets, focus on starting childcare centres instead

Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister, Hannah Yeoh, speaks during the launch of Life at Work Awards 2018 in Mutiara Damansara August 11, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister, Hannah Yeoh, speaks during the launch of Life at Work Awards 2018 in Mutiara Damansara August 11, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PETALING JAYA, Aug 11 — Hannah Yeoh today trained her sights on the open house budgets of government agencies, calling for a review of such expenditure to be channelled towards starting childcare centres for public sector employees instead.

The Segambut MP and deputy women, family and community development minister said that there is an urgent need for childcare centres, as they are an important factor that would help keep women in the workforce.

She said that this was also an important element, alongside flexible work arrangements, which would help the government and private sector achieve its 30 per cent female representation in the decision-making level.

“So now we are starting it. January 1, we told our government agencies, by hook or by crook, go and do it. We want to start looking at ourselves first, before we go look at the corporate sectors.

“I still see open houses, and for me, it’s very simple. If we have money for an open house, we need to have money for childcare. Of course, people will say an open house is not that expensive, but this is where I say: If you make something your priority, it will happen.

“So, for Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) 100 days promise, when we make that a priority, we need to find the budget, right? Same thing with children,” Yeoh told a press conference here, after officiating TalentCorp Malaysia’s Life at Work Awards 2018.

Hannah said that the January 1 deadline is long overdue, as there is already an existing 1990 ‘pekeliling’ (government circular) on the matter.

“Why we are so bold to say that by January 1 we have to do is simply because the government memo we are relying on is not a new memo.

“It’s been there since 1980s. If I’m not mistaken, 1990,” she added.

Yeoh also cautioned that diverting focus from the formative needs of young children would also be detrimental to the nation, as it would affect the country’s human resource.

She said that women drop out of the workforce in their 30s after becoming mothers as they are simply unable to have a work-life balance.

She said that these women are also those who are often subjected to wage gaps, should they decide to come back and rejoin the workforce.

“When they come back, they are already behind their peers, the men, and that’s how your gender inequality in earning comes about,” she added.

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