Gender inequality, heart of Selangor woes

The impasse in appointing Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as menteri besar in Selangor, a first in Malaysia, if it becomes a reality, puts on record the unwritten repressive gender bias against women in our own backyard.

The reluctance of PAS to support PKR’s nominee Dr Wan Azizah, despite having the support of 30 assembly members versus 26 from Umno and PAS, clearly shows their bias against women and the gender inequality they practice.

And this, unexpected turnaround came after the Pakatan coalition had verbally endorsed her and decided on her candidacy for the Menteri Besar’s post.

It is puzzling that PAS president (Datuk Seri Haji Abdul Hadi Awang) admitted that the sultan did not rule out a women MB candidate to date.

The question then is, why is PAS bending backwards to block the first ever woman Mentri Besar?

Earlier, in the Selangor crisis, state PAS deputy commissioner (Abdul Rani Osman) pointed to palace for turning down a woman candidate.

But after Pakatan Rakyat had unanimously decided on Dr Wan Azizah, PAS back tracked and proposed other male candidates from their own ranks and PKR.

This duplicity shows that PAS is a male dominated religious party that practices discrimination against women.

To compliment PAS, Umno legal advisor Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun came out with an absurd remark that menstruating women should be disqualified to become a MB.

Women are a dominant force in higher education, the workforce and are playing a more central role in society.

But chauvinist political leaders in PAS and Umno have not reconciled with the reality on the ground and have insulated themselves with a narrow, outdated religious worldview.

Even when Dyna Sofea contested under the DAP ticket in Teluk Intan, Umno leaders were spewing sexist remarks that belittled the dignity and integrity of women.

Our neighbors, Thailand, Phillipines and Indonesia all had women head of states. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, had Megawati Sukarno Putri as president. But, in sharp contrast, in Malaysia, nominating a woman MB faces opposition from conservative Muslim parties.

Even Pakistan and Bangladesh had woman heads. Only the Arab states prohibit woman’s participation in politics and deprive them of rights. Malaysia is fast following the Arab model and not the other non-Arab Muslim countries where women are given equality.

The Selangor palace can set right women’s position and uphold their dignity by one swift move. PAS and Umno, find it hard to reconcile a woman’s role in family, society and politics and this remains a stumbling block for women in Malaysia.

Gender equality is the cornerstone of every democratic society which aspires to social justice and human rights.

Discrimination of gender in this 21st century is oumoded and cannot be tolerated and swept under the carpet.

It is perpetuated by ignorant stereotypes, superstitions and traditional beliefs that aims at subjugating women and keeping them in their traditional but outdated positins at home.

S.Ramakrishnan

(former Senator)

25/8/2014

 

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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