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A New Dawn for Malaysia

Network of Social Democracy in Asia Statement on the Democratic Action Party and Pakatan Harapan’s electoral victory

SocDem Asia congratulates the Democratic Action Party and Pakatan Harapan on their historic election victory during the recently concluded General Elections in Malaysia. This victory is significant in heralding a new era in Malaysia’s history. The Malaysian people’s overwhelming decision to repudiate the 60-year rule of the Barisan Nasional coalition is a victory of the democratic and progressive forces in Malaysia.

We would also like to note that this landslide victory for Pakatan Harapan is a convergence and culmination of decades of citizens’ movements for reform and good governance. The long journey starting twenty years ago under the banner of ‘Reformasi’ has translated into numerous expressions of citizen involvement and activism. Since then, Malaysia’s independent civil society and democratic forces have painstakingly carved the democratic space needed for this electoral victory. Proof of this is the popular Bersih movement created by this democratic space and a highly politicized generation of young Malaysians.

There is no doubt that Pakatan can govern. Pakatan has a wide bench of leaders who can steer Malaysia to a better future. The challenge is now to actualize their promise of hope for Malaysia. We see no better way to convey this message than the immediate release and political rehabilitation of Anwar Ibrahim along with the prosecution of those involved in the 1MDB scandal.

The incoming government must also be wary of possible attempts by the disgraced coalition Barisan Nasional to thwart reform. Malaysians must work with their newly elected democratic leaders to deepen the reforms in government and to dismantle the vestiges of the old corrupt system. The people have the duty to be vigilant against any attempt to rob them of their victory or steer their country towards a direction that they did not choose.

Lastly, we wish to point out that this electoral victory is a much-needed morale boost for the democratic and progressive forces of Asia. This new dawn for Malaysia is hope that there is a definite end to the darkness enveloping many countries in Asia. These democratic forces must work with the same vigour and hope to confront similar authoritarians.

The despots of Asia must now take notice. The populist and authoritarian tide will be met with a citizen-led surge in the elections, the streets or both.

Their days are numbered.

Women are leading the resistance in the Philippines

Duterte’s strongman politics attack women. Women are fighting back.

In a country struck by widespread state-sanctioned killings and political persecution, meet the Filipinas who are leading the resistance against the Duterte dictatorship, on the streets or in the halls of government.

The Duterte era is the worst--and best--time to be a woman in the Philippines.

When President Rodrigo Roa Duterte took power on June 2016, the Philippines has been placed under strongman rule. 20,000 people have been killed under the murderous War on Drugs, a campaign promise that made Duterte a subject of the International Criminal Court’s preliminary examination. Corruption is on the rise while hunger and poverty rates are worsening.

Under these conditions, women bear the brunt of Duterte’s failure to govern. At the height of the killings, women in urban poor communities suspected of selling illegal drugs are gunned down by police or masked gunmen. Most women become widows left to raise a family on their own. In the workforce, women have to endure cruel working conditions with low wages as Duterte surrendered to the capitalists.

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The Gender Responsive and Participatory Budgeting Programme in Penang

Shariza Kamarudin
Programme Manager (Pengurus Program)
Gender Responsive & Participatory Budgeting (GRPB)

Penang is the first State that is implementing the Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) in Malaysia. The commitment of the new state government that took over Penang in 2008 in its mission of promoting gender equality and social justice eventually gave rise to the setting up of the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) in 2011. PWDC’s vision is to mainstream gender into the policies and programmes of all sectors to achieve gender and social justice in the state of Penang. GRB has become the flagship programme in PWDC. A smart partnership started in 2012 between PWDC and the two local councils – Penang Island City Council and Seberang Perai Municipal Councils to implement GRB in Penang.

The name was then formally changed to Gender Responsive and Participatory Budgeting (GRPB) in 2014 to reflect the due emphasis and importance the two budgeting approaches – GRB and Participatory Budgeting (PB). The GRB methodology analyses decision-making on public expenditure in the context of implications on gender equality and attempts to bring development and changes that will make budgets more gender-equal. The PB model, on the other hand, introduces processes in which citizens can directly influence aspects of budget decision-making. For this, the Penang won a special mention award at the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy in 2014 for its innovative combination of participatory processes with gender responsive measures through community projects. The two local councils in Penang are now in the midst of implementing the Strategic Plan of Action for Institutionalizing GRPB 2016-2018 in their respective institutions.

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