By FOONG PEK YEE
SINGAPORE - Women lawmakers here are thanking the men for the 325% jump in their numbers.
The People's Action Party (PAP) women's wing chairman, Lim Hwee Hua (pic), attributed the rise in the numbers to efforts not just from the women but those of the men as well.
'The men have been out to increase the number of women MPs as they recognise that we are now increasingly playing our roles in the economics and social front.
'Gender is never an issue,' Lim told a Wanita MCA delegation led by its chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun during a study tour here early this month.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has used the Chinese adage 'Women hold up half the sky' in his tribute at the wing's anniversary bash early this month, saying it was good to have women well represented in its Parlia-ment.
There are now 17 women MPs - making up 20% of the 84 representatives - in Singapore's Parliament, up from only four in 1989, the year that the PAP's women's wing was established.
All the women MPs are from the PAP.
The wing, said Lim, was targeting a 30% representation in Parliament in the next general election.
'Politics in Singapore means taking charge of your future. There is a need for more women to enter the traditionally male domain,' she said, noting that al-though women made up about a fifth of the total number of MPs, they raised almost half of the questions in session.
'It is women who raised 42% of the Parliament questions in the new session,' she pointed out, adding that they had also handled 92,460 meet-the-people session cases over the last three years.
The 50-year-old Lim, a Cambridge University graduate with a Masters in Business Administration from the University of California (UCLA), made her mark both in the public and private sectors before joining politics in 1997.
She became the first woman full minister in the 50 years of PAP's governance in Singapore when she was appointed as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office on April 1.
Chew, who is also the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said she was impressed by the wing's achievements and their 30% target of representation in the Parliament at the next election.
Chew, her deputy Datuk Yu Chok Tow and vice-chairmen Datuk Christina Lim Bee Kau and Tan Ah Eng also paid a courtesy call on Lee.