5 Mei 2008
Travel consent plan slammed
PETALING JAYA: The proposal by the Foreign Ministry for women planning to travel overseas alone to get the consent of their family is an infringement of women’s rights, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said the proposal was not the right thing to do.
“The ministry does not agree to this. I understand that Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim meant well and wanted only to protect Malaysian women in light of the sudden rise of women used as drug mules by international syndicates,” Dr Ng said.
“But I do not agree to this,” she said.
She added that issues such as identifying the syndicate, understanding why women were being lured into drug trafficking and checking their backgrounds were vitally important.
“We need to look at the core of the problem,” Dr Ng said, adding that she will be discussing the matter further with Dr Rais.
Dr Ng said she would be having a meeting with women’s groups and this issue would be a top priority.
It was reported yesterday that Dr Rais had submitted the proposal to the Cabinet following the revelation that there were 119 cases of Malaysian women imprisoned in various parts of the world for drug-related offences.
It is learnt that the vast majority of the women were aged between 21 and 27, and believed to have been conned or forced into being drug mules for syndicates.
Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said the proposal made women look weak and incompetent in making decisions.
She said the proposal would violate women’s equal rights as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Federal Constitution and the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women treaty ratified by Malaysia in 1995.
“At a logistical level, it will be a nightmare. Imagine Immigration authorities reviewing letters of consent at bus stations, train stations, airports and borders,” she said.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong said he understood Dr Rais’ intention but thought the proposal was inappropriate.
“There should be more studies and feedback on the matter,” he said.
Sisters In Islam programme manager Masjaliza Hamzah called it a patronising way to protect women.
“Why are women being targeted? If the Government wants to raise awareness, teach the youth and educate everybody – don’t target just women,” she said.