Spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia

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Spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia
Rosmah Mansor Speech.jpg
Incumbent
Rosmah Mansor

since 3 April 2009
Style Yang Berbahagia
Residence Seri Perdana
Inaugural holder Sharifah Rodziah Syed Alwi Barakbah
Formation 31 August 1957
Website pmo.gov.my/datinrosmah/

Spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia refers to the spouse of the head of government of Malaysia, the Prime Minister. Since independence in 1957, the title has been occupied by women, therefore the spouse is also known as the Prime Minister's wife. The term "First Lady" has also been used to refer to the Prime Minister's spouse, mirroring American usage, however this is controversial due to Malaysia being a constitutional monarchy.[1][2] To date, six women have held the title of the spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The spouse of the current Prime Minister of Malaysia (Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak) is Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Role of the spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia[edit]

The spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia is not an elected position, carries no official duties, and brings no salary. However, she does receive some allowance as recognition of her time and energy put into being the spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

As the spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, she attends many official ceremonies and functions of state either along with or representing the Prime Minister. There is a strict taboo against the spouse holding outside employment while serving as spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Following the Asian value system, where the woman is the guiding light and pillar of the household, the spouse also represents family values and is taken as a motherly figure.

The spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia frequently participates in humanitarian and charitable work. It became increasingly common for spouses of heads of state or government to select specific causes to promote, usually ones that are not politically divisive. It is common for the spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia to form organisations and hire a staff to support these activities.

Current spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia[edit]

Rosmah is the wife of current Prime Minister of Malaysia- Najib Razak. She is known for her charitable efforts in advancing child education and development through a nurturing program known as Permata. The First Ladies Summit hosted by her had similar ideals with her aspirations to advance childcare development.

Rosmah is also active in various national organisations. She is currently the Acting President of BAKTI, the Welfare Association of Minister's Wives, the President of the Netball Association of Wilayah Persekutuan, as well as the Patron of other organisations like the Children in Hope Foundation, Puspanita Ministry of Defence, Heart to Heart Association of Malaysia, the Persatuan Warga Cinta Negara Malaysia and the Thalesemia Association of Malaysia; and member of the Board of Trustees, Malaysian Humanitarian Foundation.[3]

List of spouses of prime ministers of Malaysia[edit]

# Spouse
(Birth-Death)
Term start Term end Prime Minister
(Party)
1 Tun Sharifah Rodziah Syed Alwi Barakbah
(1920–2000)
31 August 1957 22 September 1970 Tunku Abdul Rahman
(UMNO of Alliance)
2 Tun Rahah Noah
(b. 1933)
22 September 1970 14 January 1976 Tun Abdul Razak
(UMNO of Alliance)
(UMNO of BN)
3 Toh Puan Suhaila Noah
(b. 1935)
15 January 1976 16 July 1981 Tun Hussein Onn
(UMNO of BN)
4 Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali
(b. 1926)
16 July 1981 31 October 2003 Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
(UMNO of BN)
5 Tun Endon Mahmood Ambak
(1940–2005)
31 October 2003 20 October 2005 Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
(UMNO of BN)
5 Tun Jeanne Abdullah
(b. 1953)
9 June 2007 3 April 2009 Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
(UMNO of BN)
6 Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor
(b. 1951)
3 April 2009 Incumbent Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak
(UMNO of BN)

Controversy over the usage of the title "First Lady"[edit]

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysia) is theoretically deemed a constitutional figurehead within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. It is argued that Article 32(2) of the Constitution of Malaysia stipulates that the Consort of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong takes precedence over all individuals in the federation and is second only to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong himself. Hence, it is argued that the Raja Permaisuri Agong is, by strict analogy only, the First Lady of Malaysia. It should however be borne in mind that such a title cannot exist in Malaysia in the first place, as "First Lady" exclusively refers to wives of presidents and not monarchs.

Before Najib's premiership, there has not been a precedent in Malaysia where someone other than the wife of the Prime Minister served as a self-styled "First Lady". While the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's first late wife, Tun Endon Mahmood Ambak underwent treatment for breast cancer in the United States, the title of "First Lady" was not officially designated.

The issue was brought up only during the premiership of Najib when his wife widely used the title of "First Lady". Many quarters either argue that it is reserved for the Raja Permaisuri Agong, or that it should never be used at all due to Malaysia not being a republic.

The issue didn't stop there as there was an obscure new unit established within the Prime Minister's Department with the acronym FLOM (which was not explained on the website, but taken to stand for "First Lady of Malaysia"). Datuk Siti Azizah binti Sheikh Abod was the Special Officer for the unit. The news on FLOM was widely covered by many bloggers with their own stories and analysis. This led to the government webpage containing the information of the contacts in FLOM department to be removed a few days after the story came out. However some search engines managed to store the cached version of the page.[4] Many groups questioned the validity and functionality of the department. There were also some queries, especially in the Malaysian Parliament, on how much allocation from the National Budget was allocated for the department.

References[edit]

External links[edit]