YB Chong Eng is a politician who is now the Executive Councillor (EXCO) for Social Development and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs in Penang. Since 2013, she has also served as the Penang State Assemblywoman representing Padang Lalang.
In 1990, she began her political career with DAP Penang as a full-time research officer. When she won the Batu Lanchang State Constituency in the 1995 Malaysian general election, she was the sole opposition member in the Penang State Assembly from 1995 to 1999.
In the subsequent general elections, she was elected as a Bukit Mertajam Member of Parliament in 1999, 2004, and 2008, and in the 2013 and 2018 general elections, she ran for and won the Penang state seat of Padang Lalang.
YB Chong Eng was a leading advocate for gender equality and social justice, and he was concerned about establishing a governmental institution dedicated to women’s growth and empowerment.
Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) was founded in November 2011 as a result of her efforts and those of other female leaders in the state. She is now the Chairperson of the PWDC. In her Bukit Mertajam constituency, she also created the Women’s Rights Awareness Association (WRAA) in 2008.
She has organised and sponsored several organisations, events, and seminars that have helped the Penang community, particularly women and children, throughout her time as an EXCO.
The Social Development portfolio develops the Penangites through its policies, community infrastructure, programmes and services. Previously known as the Women & Family Development, Gender Inclusiveness, Religion other than Islam was officially restructured on 15th September 2020. Their mission is to nurture a resilient and caring society that can overcome challenges together.
These are some of the initiatives that have been taken by the Social Development & Non-Islamic Religious Affairs:
[International Women’s Day 2020] The Commemoration Day ‘EACH FOR EQUAL’
The commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD) was held on the 5th of March in Dewan Sri Pinang. It was officiated by Toh Puan Dato’ Seri Utama Hajah Majimor, the consort of the Governor of Penang. Numerous VIPs comprising state ministers, members of parliament and state assemblypersons, prominent community leaders and heads of local councils also supported the meaningful day. This event is to celebrate women’s achievements and contributions to the family and society based on the theme “Each for Equal”.
PENANG GOES ORANGE (PGO) 2019 CLOSING “ESCAPE SEXUAL ABUSE”
Penang Goes Orange (PGO) is a state-level campaign organised by Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) since 2014 to stop all forms and shapes of violence against women. The closing ceremony of the campaign was held at the Escape Theme Park, Teluk Bahang and youth from all walks of life flooded the place with orange to raise public awareness and stop sexual violence against women.
PROJEK WANITA JANA REZEKI
Starting with Project Kuih Raya, they thought of an opportunity for women to step up and generate income for themselves and their dependents. To make it sustainable, they incepted Projek Wanita Jana Rezeki. The aim of this is to show business opportunities for women and mothers in Penang, especially for the B40 group. A total of 62 products were on display for evaluation by invited guests of honour during the food testing day. The Penang State Government hopes that this project gives a positive impact as well as open business opportunities for women and mothers who are housewives.
YB Chong Eng said they will continue this initiative by providing starting funds, branding and marketing funds to women who plan on starting a small business.
RM100,000 ALLOCATION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The Penang government has set aside RM100,000 which can be applied for by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) providing support to victims of domestic violence during the current Movement Control Order (MCO). A total of RM65,000 was disbursed to 5 different NGOs. The move is to support the initiatives of NGOs which have been providing counselling, intervention, 24-hour helpline, emergency shelters and more to domestic abuse victims during Covid-19.
PENANG WOMEN ENTREPRNEUR MENTORING PROGRAM (PWEMP)
Penang Women Entrepreneur Mentoring Program (PWEMP) is a coaching program for women entrepreneurs that will be conducted for the first time to assist them (prospective women entrepreneurs) in starting a business. The program will provide a platform for women entrepreneurs to build networks and receive business guidance from experienced mentors.
This Pakej Bantuan is a basic monetary and food package aid that will be given to women, single mothers from lower-income groups and also subsidies for childcare centre operators and kindergartens.
Memperkukuhkan Penjagaan Kanak-kanak di Pulau Pinang
Penang had identified 77 registered childcare centres that are eligible for the RM50 monthly fee subsidy. Households earning below RM5,000 monthly are eligible for the subsidy if the daycare fees are below RM500 monthly. The subsidy comes up to RM600 yearly and will benefit the B40 group.
The Penang government has launched the Top-Up Women-Only Additional Seats (TWOAS) initiative to increase women’s representation in the state legislative assembly. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the initiative would ensure at least 30% of women representation in the August House, and it would be done through nomination, if necessary. In other words, TWOAS will only be implemented if the percentage of women elected representatives is less than 30%.
SAFE FAMILY POLICY
The Penang State Government is the first in Malaysia to introduce this strategy in order to make domestic violence cases easier to handle. Through the basic method of Safe Family Policy, the State Government will be able to use a broader and systematic support system for victims of domestic violence in Penang through the formation of First Support Pain in all state government agencies, ADUN service centres, religious organisations, NGOs and at the grassroots level.
Such an initiative will open the way for domestic violence victims to come forward boldly and confident that the Penang State Government will always support them whilst ensuring that they are in a safe and protected situation. Safe Family Policy is in line with the Penang 2030 vision initiative which enhances the Welfare and Care System and increases the Participation of Adolescents, Women, and the Elderly in community life.
According to Chong Eng, victims of domestic violence have no voice and avenue to reach out for help, more so during the current pandemic. Even lodging a police report is impossible for some and many were left with little to no choice but to return to their abusive husbands. “Hence, under this Safe Family policy, we try try to increase the support point. Besides going to the police stations, JKM and hospitals, these victims can seek assistance from state government agencies,” she said.
“With the implementation of this policy, ADUN service centres will provide training and first hand support. Rather than questioning the victims, they will give emotional support and suggestions on ways they could help,” she added.
GI POLICY AND CAPACITY BUILDING
The Penang State Gender Inclusion Policy & Capacity Building Workshop involving the office of the State Secretary, State Departments, State Statutory Bodies and District and Land Offices was held on 13 -14 May 2019 and 17 -18 May 2019. The purpose of the workshop was to introduce Gender Inclusion Policy to government officials and organise an action plan to implement the Gender Inclusion Policy for their respective departments and divisions. PDT SPT invited PWDC to provide a briefing based on the Gender Inclusion Policy which was held on 4th August 2020.
Harmonico An Environment For Growing
Formerly known as Penang Harmony Centre, it has been built to make space for learning sessions, meetings and other events. Its aim is to implement the policies formulated by the State Government through Non-Muslim Affairs and also to coordinate religious programs and issues related to non-Muslim affairs. They will be organising various religious festivals for religions other than Islam at the State Government level. It will work as a reference point for all Non-Muslim Houses of Worship.
Varnam Malaysia had the pleasure to speak to YB Chong Eng on her vision and on going plans for the coming year.