KUALA LUMPUR, 3 Oct 2008: “I do not see another opportunity coming, if I do not seize it this time.”
This was how Wanita MCA chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen explained her bold decision to contest one of the four posts of MCA vice-president hitherto held by men.
Victory will enable her name to be inked in the party record books as the first woman vice-president.
In fact, by contesting the post, Ng has become the first woman candidate to contest the veep’s position in the history of the largest Chinese-based party in the country.
“If I do not seize this opportunity, I think I would be failing in my duty as a leader or woman leader. Yes, it is true, it is absolutely risky but that’s what leaders are all about.
“In politics, you must know why you are there. You are there to be an instrument of change. You are there to make a difference,” she told Bernama in an interview.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said that over the past 33 years, she had worked for the women’s agenda and that the time was now ripe for her to champion a bigger cause.
And this does not stop with her, she said. In fact, Ng wants women in the party to get into mainstream politics, especially with the “national level vacancies” available in the party.
“This is the time. If I do not do it, I would have missed the opportunity. The truth is that in our traditional society, we need women’s wings to enable women to participate in politics.
“But things have changed. Women must get into mainstream politics. After being the Wanita head for three terms and armed with the experience, it is time to move into national politics,” she said.
The 62-year-old medical doctor with three children and one grandchild said her decision to contest the veep’s post was also in line with the current global trend where gender did not count in politics.
She said that though 85% of the delegates in an MCA election were men, this would not be a problem as men did not see gender as an issue — well, at least for certain positions.
“When I tested the ground for the presidency and deputy presidency, there was a pause. But one woman for vice-president? They think it is about time,” she quipped.
However, the Kelantan-born Ng said there were some pockets of delegates who still thought that she should have stayed as Wanita chief instead of contesting a national party position.
She admitted that the stakes were high in this contest because if she were to lose in the party polls, it could have a bearing on her position as a minister and a member of parliament.
“I know this is a very bold decision. I know I could lose everything if I fail. It is also true that I am a minister for the last six months but I feel a good leader should take his or her chances well and should be an agent of change.
“Yes, I could end up being the shortest-serving minister, shortest-serving Chinese minister ever. If I had feared that then I would have stayed in my comfort zone, which is being the Wanita chief for another term,” she said.
Dismissing the idea of having “teams” during an election, she said a good leader would be one who was willing to work with anyone elected by the delegates.
“There is … no necessity for me to team up with anybody. I can work with anybody elected. You must read my actions, and not get into any speculation,” she said.
Ng also rubbished speculation that she had difficulty working with some leaders in the party.
“Only the way leaders work differs. Their objectives are the same, which is for the betterment of the party. My medical background has made me call a spade a spade. We have to [be] mature and put aside personal issues. Once elected, we should work as a team and not as a single leader,” she said. — Bernama