Two firsts for Malaysia - non-Malay speaker, woman deputy speaker

April 23rd, 2008 - 12:53 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 23 (IANS) Malaysia has got its first non-Malay speaker and its first woman deputy speaker in the opposition-ruled Selangor state. Ethnic Chinese Teng Chang Khim was sworn in as the speaker of the Selangor legislative assembly, followed by Haniza Talha, who has become the first woman to be elected as deputy speaker since Malaysia became free in 1957.

Teng, who belongs to the Democratic Action Party (DAP), is a four-term lawmaker.

Talha, 45, is one of the 50 women lawmakers, from out of 130 women candidates, who won last month’s general election.

“This is significant as we move towards a more democratic country, but I will always be neutral and impartial in discharging my responsibilities,” said Teng after the swearing-in ceremony.

“Being a speaker, I have to uphold these elements. It is like when a lawyer is elevated to become a judge, you must forget how to be a lawyer and do the job as a judge.

“The requirements remain the same, neutral and impartial. I will give the opposition as much freedom as they are entitled to even when it gets aggressive as this ensures check and balance,” the Sun newspaper quoted Teng as saying Wednesday.

Indigenous Malays, referred to as “boomiputra’, or sons of the soil, comprise over 60 percent, ethnic Chinese 33 percent and Indians eight percent in Malaysia’s population of 28 million.

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