Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tun Fatimah Hashim: Malaysia's first woman minister dies

KUALA LUMPUR: The country's first woman minister Tun Fatimah Hashim died of old age at her home in Bukit Pantai at 11.30pm yesterday.
Her son, Mohamed Shah Abdul Kadir, 63, said his mother complained that she was feeling unwell in the morning and her condition worsened around 11pm.

She had a weak heart and diabetes.

Shah said Fatimah gave a "farewell speech" on her 85th birthday on Dec 25, as if she knew her time was short.

He said all his siblings -- two sisters and three brothers -- together with Fatimah's 18 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren were with her during her last hour.

"We had just celebrated her birthday and the whole family of four generations gathered to be with her.

"My mother was wheelchair-bound for about two years, but her mind was still sharp," he told reporters last night.

Shah said his mother would be buried today after zohor prayers beside his father, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Yusuf, a former attorney-general and former minister of law and national development.

Fatimah had contributed significantly towards the development of women in the country.

She worked tirelessly for equal wages, better protection and pensions for women as well as alimony for divorced women.

Fatimah was head of Kaum Ibu Malaya (the Umno women's wing then) for 16 years until 1972, and fought for women's rights as well as independence for the country since she was in her 20s.

In an interview with the New Sunday Times in August last year, Fatimah, who was also the first woman to contest a parliament seat in the Jitra-Padang Terap constituency, said only after she entered Parliament did Pas and MCA follow suit by sending their women representatives.

"Nowadays, women leaders are of a higher calibre. I didn't have high education.

"All I had was determination. Nowadays, you have women lawyers, economists and others. Because the country managed to achieve independence, these women had an opportunity to get an education."

The women's movement during pre-independence days was different from what it is today, she had said.

"They were high-spirited and worked for the party and country. They didn't ask to be paid for their services and nobody paid them either. They didn't ask for taxi licences or other things.

"Sometimes supporters would provide the transport, sometimes I would borrow my husband's car to go to Terengganu or Kelantan where the roads were not good.

"We also travelled in perahu to those places. That was real perjuangan (struggle)."

*Taken from NST Online

*For Tun Fatimah Hashim's biodata, click here

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