Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Anwar Ibrahim's Transvestites Trauma

Now I have always been frank that I have not been nor am impressed with Anwar Ibrahim. But I am repulsed by today's dirty tricks smearing against him in Sarawak where he currently is, campaigning for PKR candidates for the State elections. And if KTemoc says it’s dirty, it’s rotten dirty.

Today the Eastern Times, a Sarawak newspaper reputed to be closely linked to Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, published a news item showing Anwar Ibrahim being ‘welcomed’ by a group of transvestites. In that news article there was a photograph showing four transvestites carrying a banner that read: ‘We love you, We support you Datuk Seri Anwar’.

So what! Under normal circumstances it would have been a laughing matter, but this being Malaysia, it has naturally pissed off PKR leaders to no ends. The PKR candidate for the Padungan constituency, Dominique Ng said he was shocked when he saw the report. I would imagine so.

Ng lambasted the Eastern Times: “This is gutter press at work. It is an action of a press that is bankrupt of ideas. It is part of the BN (Barisan Nasional) propaganda.”

Naturally Ng claimed that the BN is running sh*t scared to stoop to such nasty levels to attack Anwar. Why ‘nasty’ or ‘gutter’ level?

If you (Malaysians only) have been in Mars or Jupiter for the last several years, you should know that Anwar Ibrahim, former DPM and deputy president of UMNO (Malaysia’s most powerful and ruling political party) was sacked from government in 1998 and subsequently charged with corruption and sodomy. He spent six years in jail. Subsequently his sodomy conviction was overturned by the Federal Court. Anwar has always claimed to be a victim of political conspiracy and that the charges against him were trumped-up.

Therefore, this dirty tricks news item capitalised on the grounds of his earlier conviction for sodomy.

If Malaysia was a Western country, such reporting would have been laughed at. Unfortunately, in a predominantly Muslim environment, the issues of transvestites, homosexuality or lesbianism and such adult non-heterosexual preferences/proclivities are deemed as social taboos and even criminal - which was why Anwar was jailed.

Being alluded to as a non-heterosexually inclined person can be damaging to a politician and his credibility. The aim obviously has been to damage his campaigning for PKR candidates. Unfortunately our society isn't yet mature enough, not only in handling the difference between smearing and truth, but in respecting the individual adult's consensual sexual preferences.

Ng bravely attempted to turn the half-empty glass into a half-full glass by averring: “The response [to Anwar's presence] has been tremendous. The Chinese, who are usually reserved in showing their support, have been very expressive and warm towards Anwar. I have never seen such a warm welcome for any leader throughout my 20-year experience in politics. I believe that BN leaders are feeling the heat and have finally realised that Anwar is able to make an impact on the locals.”

While a few PKR leaders condemned the staged photo and publicity, I award the best reply to PKR Youth vice-president Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin who thanked the group of transvestites if their support was genuine. He said:

“If they truly support us, that’s well and good. But for the media to manipulate the support to suggest that our leaders are that kind of people, that’s just despicable.”

Well done, that’s the way to deal with such gutter politics.

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