In Gatal versus Miang (Malaysian for ‘Randy versus Randy’ – yeap, more or less the same meaning!) a politician from the Malaysian Islamic Party, PAS, Abdul Fatah Harun told parliament that “If we see women who don’t have husbands and are divorced not because their husbands are dead, (it must be because) they are ‘gatal sikit.’”
('gatal sikit' means a 'wee lusty/randy/lecherous')
He infuriated Malaysian women. MPs from both the ruling party and another opposition party, the DAP, had a jolly field day, firing shots across his bow, but the PAS member was entirely immune to their outrage and totally unrepentant.
Strangely or not strangely, depending on your political views, the lady MP from Permatang Pauh, PKR President Dr Wan Azizah (wife of Anwar Ibrahim) was, unless I missed her objection to those misogynist remarks, deafeningly silent.
If she has indeed remained silent over those crude boorish remarks, then it may explain why PKR had been a general failure with Malaysians. There is an adverse perception, especially among non-Muslims, that PKR is subordinate to, and very passive towards the loose cannon policies of its more dominating ally, PAS.
They certainly had been reluctant to vote for a party that couldn't stand on principles but rely completely on the whims and fancies of another. I am not making this up as this had been the feedback I obtained from the last general election when PKR was nearly annihilated.
Ironically in comparison to PKR, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang stated unequivocally that the terrible and utterly disgraceful comments of the MP for Rantau Panjang did not represent the views of the party. That's what I meant by loose cannon. PAS has been trying to revamp its erstwhile misogynist stern image to appeal to non-Muslims, and I would dare say it's actually succeeding somewhat because of the current excesses and arrogance of UMNO. The non-Muslims are almost - not quite there yet, but almost - ready to give PAS a try.
So loose cannon utterances that are likely to alienate the non-Muslims must have had Abdul Hadi Awang and the younger generation PAS leaders like Husam Musa ripping their haji caps (yarmulke-like Muslim skullcap) off in sheer frustration at spoilers like Abdul Fatah Harun. Abdul Hadi Awang instructed the 'gatal' man to withdraw the remarks. The former said that PAS upholds the cherished position of women in society as required by the tenets of Islam.
But unfortunately that’s as far as PAS would go, for the word is that it won’t take any disciplinary action against Abdul Fatah Haron who continues to be unrepentant, and had even snubbed party leaders who called for him to apologise.
His party somehow appears to be not interested in disciplining him, and as some newspapers had stated, not even with a rap on the knuckles. The tidakapa (apathetic) attitude towards such a serious slur against women has diminished its president’s claims that PAS upholds the dignity of women in society.
PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa did the ostrich bit and declared he didn’t want to comment on the issue any more. And neither did PAS women wing’s information chief Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud.
Unfortunately the obvious lack of action could make it difficult for the women’s wing to explain the party’s position on women. Indeed, former PAS women leader Jamilah Ibrahim had said she is worried that the remark could give the impression that Pas was a party of boorish leaders and members.
Not all, I must admit, though in the general sense, yes, I think so. I believe women would be silly to vote for PAS unless the party demonstrates it is serious about such a misogynist member.