Thursday, April 03, 2008

ST: Appoint a woman to Cabinet? Base it 'on ability'

Got this from the Straits Times (3 Apr 2008)

Appoint a woman to Cabinet? Base it 'on ability'

MS GRACE Fu would very much like to see a woman appointed a full Cabinet minister, but not 'just to satisfy some gender or race requirement'.

Ms Fu, the Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education, is the first woman office holder to comment on the Cabinet changes announced last Saturday.

On women ministers, she said: 'I am sure when PM sees someone who has that capability and competency, there is no doubt that he will put one of us in that position.'

Speaking to reporters at an event at Pathlight School yesterday, she said that, as for herself, she would much prefer to move up 'at a steady pace where the PM is comfortable with my ability'.

Ms Fu, who was promoted in the latest round of changes and given a new role in Education, plans to visit schools and talk to people to better understand the issues.


I don't get it. More Singaporean women go to university than Malay Singaporeans or Indian Singaporeans. This probably has been the case for most of Singapore's history since independence. Yet, we have Indian and Malay (male) full ministers but no female full ministers. Statistically speaking, it is impossible. The only way that can be possible would be that the variance in the distribution of 'talent' in the Indian and Malay male population is much wider than that of the general Singaporean population but that is very unlikely.

The conclusion is obvious. Either people are appointed to the cabinet on account of their race or women are discriminated against. Of course, it could be both but it is impossible to have a selection process that does not take race into account and discriminate against women but yet gives us a cabinet with ethnic minorities but not a single woman. Impossible.

2 comments:

twasher said...

Oh, come on. There are many other possible reasons besides discrimination (affirmative action based on race is a form of discrimination, too). It could well be that women tend to prefer not to go into politics. It could be that giving birth to children is an impediment in one's political career (like it most certainly is in science). And also, I don't think the hypothesis that some races tend to produce better politicians than others is absurd, because obviously the culture that one is brought up in is hugely influential in determining the kind of person you turn out to be and the kind of career you seek.

My hunch is that there is sexism going on here, but I think we have to have a better argument for its existence than what you've provided.

Fox said...

It is entirely possible that existing social and cultural conditions are against the participation of women in politics. Or that women do not like to go into politics because of its rough and tumble nature.

However, in Singapore, leaders are largely selected, not elected. There is no rough and tumble to speak of. People are picked from a pool of candidates composed of elite civil servants, academics, top lawyers, doctors, professionals, etc. I don't think this pool has more Indians and Malays than women.

And also, I don't think the hypothesis that some races tend to produce better politicians than others is absurd, because obviously the culture that one is brought up in is hugely influential in determining the kind of person you turn out to be and the kind of career you seek.

I don't think being an Indian or a Malay Singaporean predisposes a person to any kind of profession that would give its practitioner any significant advantage in seeking a political career.