KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Dzulkefly Ahmad has called for an explanation on the appointment of a trans woman in a funding committee whose secretariat is the Health Ministry.
The health minister told a press conference today that he was just informed about the appointment of Rania Zara Medina from trans rights group Justice For Sisters as a transgender representative in Malaysia’s country coordinating mechanism (CCM) for the 2019/ 2021 term, effective from July 1.
CCM is a committee comprising representatives of those affected by AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; medical experts; government and civil society that applies for grants from international organisation The Global Fund.
Malaysia’s CCM started back in 2009 under the Barisan Nasional government. The CCM has always had transgender representatives since then. It comprises non-governmental organisations or faith-based organisations, people who use drugs, sex workers, transgender people, men who have sex with men, people living with HIV, and youth under 26.
The roles of the CCM are to develop and submit proposals on behalf of the country to The Global Fund, to select the principal recipient to implement funded projects, to oversee funded projects, and to provide strategic advice and technical support.
“The matter will be brought to the post-Cabinet meeting at the Health Ministry level for discussion and to get an explanation on it,” Dzulkefly said today.
Rania posted her CCM appointment letter from Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye’s office yesterday.
“With this, I, with great humility, would like to thank the entire community and all my supporters from the start of my candidacy until this appointment,” she said.
“Great things never come from comfort zone. The best time for new beginnings is now.”
Malay-Muslim conservatives have frequently attacked the Pakatan Harapan administration over Islam and Malay rights, including on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights issues.
Dr Lee said in a statement that Rania’s appointment as a CCM member followed current procedure.
He added that the Health Ministry functioned as coordinator of CCM, which is chaired by the deputy health minister.
“The first CCM chairman was then Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Haji Abdul Latiff Ahmad, followed by Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin and Dato’ Seri Dr Hilmi Haji Yahaya. The current chairman is Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye,” said Dr Lee.
Dr Lee added that The Global Fund required 25 members in the CCM comprising stakeholders like the government, NGOs, academics, and community representatives from target populations.
He explained that representatives of target communities were chosen by the communities themselves and confirmed by the CCM chairman.
“CCM’s function is to control HIV/ AIDS, in line with the national strategic plan to tackle the HIV/ AIDS epidemic in this country.”