Parit MP Mohd Nizar Zakaria’s (pic) appointment as the chairman of the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) raises concerns as his predecessor was a credentialled individual, said think tank Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.
Nizar, an Umno politician, replaces Dr Narimah Awin, who was appointed to the post in March last year.
“Mohd Nizar has a serious job and big shoes to fill. Dr Narimah is a highly qualified health professional who not only has all the relevant credentials for the position, she is also well-respected for her work and views on maternal and sexual reproductive health,” Galen CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement today.
He noted that Dr Narimah was a former regional advisor for the World Health Organisation in the Southeast Asia region, and a former director of the Family Health Development Division of the Ministry of Health, where she served for almost 30 years.
“The position of LPPKN chairperson has become increasingly crucial. Since 1966, LPPKN has played a critical role in the development of Malaysian society and ensuring that issues such as family planning and reproductive health are mainstreamed into the country’s development policies,” said Azrul.
He noted that issues such as teenage pregnancies, child abuse, incest, sexually transmitted diseases, unsafe abortions, child marriages, female genital cutting, and broken families are often entrusted to LPPKN to work with the affected communities.
“Today, the challenges faced by LPPKN are not only daunting and wide-ranging, there is both the potential to do great good but also inflict long-lasting harm,” said Azrul, noting that the solutions and remedies for the issues above need to be evidence-driven and grounded on everyday realities.
“The new chairperson must also address the realities of rising religious conservatism which is affecting girls and women’s right to sexual and reproductive health, especially for young and unmarried people,” he added.
Acknowledging that while it was the prerogative of the government to decide who held such positions, Azrul said that such roles should be given to suitable candidates. “This appointment should not be treated lightly,” he said. - June 17, 2020