Malaysia still has a long way to go

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

THE other day, as I was lis­ten­ing to an ad­dress by Na­tional Pop­u­la­tion and Fam­ily De­vel­op­ment Board chair­man Datuk Mariam Mas at a sem­i­nar on work-life bal­ance, I was shocked to hear dis­turb­ing news of the death of a 12year-old girl.

She had ear­lier said a mere 12 per cent of Malaysian com­pa­nies had flex­i­ble work­ing hours, and the 30 per cent quota of women as de­ci­sion-mak­ers in the coun­try had yet to be met.

These are among the in­di­ca­tors that we have yet to reach a work-life bal­ance.

Even when there was no clear cut rea­son for the young girl’s death, her par­ents have to make a liv­ing, thus lead­ing them to sur­ren­der the care of their young ones to a third-party like the nurs­ery, kinder­garten, school and other fam­ily mem­bers.

As a work­ing mother, I have to jug­gle be­tween work and fam­ily life. I have to worry about leav­ing my vul­ner­a­ble young ones in the care of another per­son so that I can meet my work per­for­mance and ex­pec­ta­tions. The same goes for a work­ing fa­ther.

When­ever my hus­band and I send our chil­dren to the nurs­ery, they of­ten cling to us for another five min­utes of at­ten­tion and want to know what our plans are when our work is over.

The daily de­mands of work­ing par­ents are ever mount­ing; it is no sur­prise that com­mut­ing ac­ci­dents hap­pen as re­ported by Perkeso, es­pe­cially in­volv­ing par­ents who are on their way to work.

It was re­vealed that 80 per cent of the ac­ci­dents oc­curred at the last mile of ap­proach­ing the work­place.

De­vel­oped coun­tries have ex­pe­ri­enced what we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing (so­cial ills caused by de­vel­op­ment and work-re­lated deaths) and learned from them.

Their re­searchers have come up with mod­els for flex­i­ble work­ing, work-shar­ing and parental leave to achieve a win-win solution for ev­ery­one.

The mod­els are there for us to em­u­late and learn from.

It is our duty to de­mand a work model that would be good for our well­be­ing, chil­dren’s fu­ture and coun­try’s sur­viv­abil­ity.

It should be a joint ef­fort be­tween the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors.

Non-govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions like Wanita Per­tubuhan Ikram Malaysia can ed­u­cate the pub­lic, es­pe­cially par­ents (young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced) on how to carry out their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and get feed­back on what works for them and us to build a safe and pros­per­ous na­tion.

The daily de­mands of work­ing par­ents are ever mount­ing. DR LILIS SURIENTY

Univer­siti Sains Malaysia, Pe­nang

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