Support, groom more women for Cabinet posts

Ms Grace Fu gracing the OneService Appreciation Tea, organised by the Municipal Services Office at Hort Park on Sept 29 2015.
Ms Grace Fu gracing the OneService Appreciation Tea, organised by the Municipal Services Office at Hort Park on Sept 29 2015. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

I am concerned that we do not have more women and more promotions of women in the new Cabinet ("PM names Cabinet aimed at leadership succession" and "Grace Fu finds place in history with two firsts"; both published on Tuesday).

In this time and age, it cannot be said that there are no available female talents or that these talents cannot be groomed to take on more responsible positions.

We have seen women proving their worth in formal education and in the workplace. Many of them are leading major organisations and delivering commendable results.

With the disproportionate number of men in the Cabinet, perhaps there are underlying issues that we have not addressed in our search for female talents.

We need to find out why we do not have more women in the Cabinet and take action to make it happen.

Women in the Cabinet can complement the men to take Singapore to a higher level in the next stage of our growth.

We need to intensify our search for good female talents and work at grooming them, so that there will be adequate representation of women in the Cabinet.

I am not suggesting having a quota for women in the Cabinet.

Meritocracy should still apply.

However, we should not be satisfied with having just one woman as a full minister.

Gender issues should not be allowed to affect our overall effectiveness and efficiency.

On the other hand, not addressing the gender issue can cause a cascade of negative consequences, including having policy myopia and less-than-representational feedback from the electorate.

I hope that in future changes, we will see more women in the Cabinet. They can complement the men in the Cabinet to take Singapore to a higher level in the next stage of our growth.

All of us should help women all over the world expand their potential and pursue their passions in life. Let us help them enjoy equal rights and opportunities and maximise their contributions to their loved ones, community, workplace and society.

Women are often born to play on an unlevel playing field. They face many disadvantages throughout their lives, including negative discrimination about women's place in society.

Women have to generally work harder to prove their worth. They have to make more sacrifices in finding their place under the family and organisational sun.

We can certainly do more and do better to help them enjoy their rightful place in politics and in other aspects of life.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2015, with the headline 'Support, groom more women for Cabinet posts'. Print Edition | Subscribe