Former Women Leaders

Datin Naomi Chong Set Mui

G uiding is close to her heart, having been an important part of her adolescent life. Since making the Guide’s Promise as a girl guide, she has not looked back, but lived by its tenets. She maintains that the guiding movement is an ideal leadership development organization for young girls.

Kudat-born Naomi Chong Set Mui, now a Datin, former Senator (2003-2006) and politician, was a bashful and timid girl. But a transformation was visible after ten years of involvement in the District’s Brownies and Girl Guides Movement which started in 1963. It enabled her to discard her shyness and socially interacts with peers and adults. Subsequently, she became a guider even during her secondary school days and has continued to help the Organization in various capacities from 1976 until today.

After she had moved to the State capital, she served as Publicity Commissioner at the State Headquarters (1980-1987); Chairperson of the Kota Kinabalu Local Association (1997-2006); Girl Guides Association of Malaysia (GGAM) Sabah Branch Vice-President (1997-2007). She was elected President on the 29th of April, 2007. She has pledged to remain in the scene for as long as her service is needed. A key fund-raiser of the Girl Guides Movement, she has been raising funds for the KK District Brownies and KK District Girl Guides for their activities, and seeking sponsorship for the KK District Girl Guides ad Brownies Fest and Camp events.

As President, she gave emphasis to training programmes by training more Guiders throughout the State, so that they can recruit more girls to join the movement. She is working closely with all the State Girl Guides Commissioners, KK Local Association, Trefoil Guild Kota Kinabalu, and Ranger Clubs. As supporting groups of the Girl Guides Movement in Sabah, the Local Association of Sabah, Trefoil Guild Sabah and Ranger Clubs Kota Kinabalu do play a role in efforts to increase the number of girl guides in schools and to encourage more volunteers to assist in planned guiding activities.

Naomi’s training and exposure laid the foundation for her debut in the political arena. Involved in politics since the Berjaya era, she has been a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), since its inception on the 2nd of August, 1989. In 1993, she was a Central Committee Member of the LDP Wanita Wing and held the Wanita Inanam Division Chief position from 1993 until 1996. She was appointed LDP Wanita Chief in 1995, and remains at the helm until today. Her active participation culminated in her nomination as a Senator in a party. On October 2, 2003, she was sworn in as a member of the Dewan Negara Malaysia for a term of three years, making her the first Hokkien woman to become a Senator. Since 2005, she has been Sabah BN Wanita Deputy Chairperson.

In the Senate settings, she voiced out a wide range of issues affecting women and children, and the State, such as the need for more Federal funds for the State’s socio-economic development, equal opportunities for Sabah contractors in terms of award of projects, and to revive Feri Malaysia’s operations between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia to upgrade domestic tourism and promote national integration among Malaysians. She also called for action to increase the number of electricity power generation stations and to upgrade the distribution system. With her limited Senator’s Fund, she funded many projects/ activities which involved the less fortunate members of society, schools and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). On festive occasions, she would lead visits to old folks’ homes and children’s homes, among other welfare institutions.

She has also been vocal on rape, child and women abuse, domestic violence, women drug couriers, and the need for women driving testers, to prevent exploitation by male testers. Through media statements, she created awareness on the incidence of undesirable activities among children, like loafing, truancy and drug addiction, by urging parents to pay more attention to their children’s movements, especially after school hours. She advised young parents to place great emphasis on family values, and not to neglect their children’s education.

During her term as Senator, she represented Malaysia at the 25th General Assembly of Asian Inter-Parliamentarians Organization (AIPO) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from September 12 to September 16, 2004, the 6th General Assembly of the Association of Asian Parliament for Peace (AAPP) in Pattaya, Thailand from November 19 to November 24, 2005, and the 4th Asian Pacific Women Parliamentarians and Ministers Conference in Wellington, New Zealand from June 10 to June 12, 2006.

In Phnom Penh, she presented a paper on enhancing women’s economic security through improving livelihood. Promoting gender equality was one of the two resolutions approved at the meeting of the committee on Women Parliamentarians of the Asian Inter-Parliamentarians Organization (WAIPO) during the 25th General Assembly.

In Pattaya City, she presented a paper on “Women and Youth”, which encompassed aspects of gender equality, gender equity and gender partnership, women developments, trafficking of women and children, and the rights of women, children and youth. The workshop on women and youth also dwelt on the role of Parliaments to ensure gender equality and protection of the rights of women, children, youth and their participation in all fields of life. In Wellington, she presented a paper on “Human Trafficking” at the workshop on “The Population and Development Agenda: Some Current Policy Issues”.

Born on 11 December 1953, she had her early education at St James Primary School in Kudat from 1958 to 1964. She joined SMK Kudat in 1965, and completed her lower secondary education two years later. In 1969, she completed the School Certificate examination at Lok Yuk Secondary School, before pursuing her Diploma in Secretarial Practice at the Goon Institute, Petaling Jaya. She started work as a secretary in a legal firm in Kota Kinabalu, upon her return to Sabah. Married with three children, she resigned from her job after the birth of her first child in 1983.

Currently, she is also a Director of Chong Kah Realthy Sdn Bhd, a family concern, and a member of the Hokkien Association, the Rotary Club of Likas Bay (Rotary Ann) and Kota Kinabalu Charitable Foundation.
Her State Awards include the Bintang Kinabalu (BK), Bintang Setia Kinabalu (BSK), Ahli Setia Darjah Kinabalu (ASDK) and Ahli Mangku Negara (AMN). She has also received Excellence Awards such as Anugerah “Bintang Kehormatan” from the Raja Permaisuri Agong and Pingat “Terima Kasih” from Girl Guides Association of Malaysia (GGAM) Sabah Branch.

Her motto is “Be Prepared” to serve and face challenges in life, and “Once a Guide, Always a Guide”. Her message to the present and future generations of women is: ��When you join politics, it should not be for self-gain but in the interest of the community and nation-building. It is a platform for building a peaceful, developed and prosperous nation, and a vehicle for assisting underprivileged citizens.

As a woman, her wish is to see all the races in Malaysia, especially Sabah, living a comfortable life with access to education for all children and a country free from violence and poverty. She envisions Malaysia as a country where the people are united and tolerant of each other’s race, culture and religion.

Her earnest hope is to see all Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen making them available to their constituents. They must realize that their role is to serve, and not to be served by the people. For this to happen, attitudes and mindsets must change. It is vital for all MPs and Wakil-wakil Rakyat (Elected Representatives) to meet their constituents as often as possible to check out their problems, whether they are about neighbourhood safety, health needs, road conditions or electricity and water supply, and ensure that all public amenities are maintained or where lacking, to seek funds to implement infrastructure projects. The environment is also of great importance and should be preserved without letting commercial gains be the overriding concern and destroy this asset in the name of development.