Transgender issue heats up state assembly

GEORGE TOWN (July 3, 2013): A proposal to set up a committee to oversee the welfare of the transgender community in Penang sparked a banter of words at the state assembly today.

Teh Yee Cheu (DAP–Tanjung Bungah) said that the welfare of the minority group was not considered and pointed out that he had brought up the issue since 2009.

"This should be done to ensure that the state government remains an open government," he added.

State Opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid (BN–Telok Ayer Tawar) questioned the need for such a committee.

"With such a committee, is the state supporting same sex marriage as well?" she asked.

State Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Chong Eng (DAP–Padang Lalang) replied that although this is a sensitive matter for Muslims, nevertheless it will address the rights of a minority group.

"They have issues, including which hospital ward they should be treated in, which toilet and which lock-ups," she said.

Chong Eng said the state government needs a nod from the Opposition to form a committee to discuss and help the minority group.

On another matter, Lau Keng Ee (Pengkalan Kota–DAP) proposed that foreign tourists visiting Penang be charged RM10 per head to help with the state tourism industry.

Pointing out to the Penang governor's speech, he noted that of the 6.09 million tourist arrivals in the state last year, 3.09 of them are foreign tourists.

"There is a need to set up a committee and special allocation to look into maintaining the infrastructures and amenities in the George Town Unesco Heritage site and tourism areas in the state," he said.

Lau pointed that the hotel industry can cooperate to collect the funds.

"RM10 is not much for these foreign tourists, and it does not affect the Malaysians," he said, adding that if this was charged last year, the state would have collected RM30 million to help the state tourism industry.

Jahara replied that they should follow their gender of birth as stated in their birth certificate and identity cards.