GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has criticised Cuepacs secretary-general Ahmad Shah Mohd Zin for expressing reservations over the increasing number of women taking up senior positions in the civil service.Lim, who is also the DAP secretary-general, hit out at Ahmad Shah for his statement, which Lim said undermined the capabilities of women who have contributed positively to the civil service."His statement is unacceptable as it is demeaning to women. It is the commitment of the Pakatan Rakyat [PR] to give equal and ample opportunities to women in the civil service," Lim said, expressing the coalition's stand."The Penang state government does not only provide lip service on this but has given ample opportunities for women in Penang to hold senior positions and lead in the civil service."We are the first in the peninsula to appoint a woman to head a local council. Our appointment of architect Patahiyah Ismail to helm the [Penang Island Municipal] Council [MPPP] is based on her capabilities, not based on her race, religion, gender or background," Lim said in a statement.Other women who hold senior positions in the state under the PR government include Rohani Hassan, who serves as the Seberang Perai Selatan district officer, Shamiah Bilal, who is the legal adviser for the MPPP, Dr Judy Shoba Naidu, who heads the urban services department of the council, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, who is the general manager of the World Heritage office and Ooi Geok Ling, who is the managing director of Penang Global Tourism."All of them were appointed by the Pakatan Rakyat government. Considering that women make up more than 65% of the intake in universities, it should not come as a surprise that more women will helm positions in the civil service compared with men."If we use gender discrimination as the basis to not give women senior posts in the civil service, it would not only be a waste of talent but also would greatly cost the nation," he added.Lim reiterated the Penang state government's stand for women to be given equal opportunities to prove their worth and realise their potential. "If they are not given the rightful opportunities [elsewhere] commensurate with their qualifications and abilities, they would be most welcome to come and join us in Penang," he said.