Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Let's blame women!

Remember Melissa Darylene Chow, NST reporter whose thighs were zoomed in on by a Penang City Hall security officer. The scoundrel misconducted himself, when he misused the CCTV to zoom in on and ogle at Melissa's thighs instead of maintaining the security watch – a double misdemeanour of improper voyeurism and negligence in his duties.

Was he ever punished or reprimanded?

But even more disgraceful was Abu Bakar Hassan, the president of the Penang Municipal Council, reaction to the misuse of public property for peeping tom’s activities. Abu Bakar Hassan shocked everyone (perhaps except himself) by
blaming the woman reporter rather than the culprit.

Abu Bakar in his misogynist statement averred that if Melissa's dress was not sexy, the incident would not have happened. I blogged on that in He's sexist, we're sexy!

Then there was Abdul Fatah Harun, the (so-called) honourable PAS member for Rautau Panjang, who
told parliament “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 = lustful

When condemned by other parliamentarians and ordered by the acting speaker to withdraw the word, an unrepentant Abdul Fatah grudgingly did so but said: “I only withdraw the word (gatal). But not the fact (as I have said).”

That shameful episode by a PAS member in the Monkey House was posted in Gatal versus Miang.

Not to be outdone, Deputy Internal Security Minister Mohd Johari Baharom has also joined the misogynist gang.

Last Thursday in Dewan Negara (Parliament, otherwise known as the Monkey House), Johari blamed the careless attitude of women for the high number of snatch theft cases.

He said: “Sometimes, women like to carry expensive handbags and wear clothes that invite trouble.”

Maybe he ought to pass a new legislation that prevents women from wearing those criminal-attracting apparel, or better still, make it illegal to sell those handbags and clothes.

An outraged Teresa Kok, DAP Seputeh parliamentarian, said Johari had lost focus on the culprits and had resorted to blaming the victims. But we shouldn’t be surprised because bloke’s responsible for the police who are supposed to prevent those type of crimes, and they aren’t!

In Malaysia, it’s the typical government rule to blame someone, anyone, including victims of crimes, rather than incompetent or erring officers of the responsible department.

Kok said: “This is a classic diversion from an important issue. He should refrain from blaming the victims and look at the causes of the crime.”

Commenting on the same issue, Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang described the deputy minister’s reply as a ‘brainless statement’.

Except for the PAS case, I see the examples above as a mixture of misogynist mentality and a reluctance to accept that the responsible departments have erred or were basically incompetent.

Somehow, ministers or senior civil servants would rather ‘die’ (politically) or abandon credibility just to defend the indefensible, when the more appropriate and praiseworthy conduct would be to haul the culprits up for either counselling or disciplinary action.

As for the PAS case, Mr Abdul Fatah Harun has a serious attitude problem. We can only thank Allah (swt) he’s not a syariah court judge.


  1. take a step back - while i agree with Lim Kit Siang that it was a ‘brainless statement’, didn't it strike u how come our elected leaders could behave so 'kampung' n still get away with it/their popularity unscatched?

    perhaps, bcos the PEOPLE themselves ARE THAT 'KAMPUNG' as well in their mentality n speech, that's y they felt they STILL COULD identify with these ELECTED reps, despite the 'disgusting' n 'moronic' things they say??

    my view is, there's a great schism or gulf among malaysians - not so much along ethnic lines but along the educated-non-educated, urban-rural/kampung/traditional divides.

    while most of the urban elites n hihger-educated middle class might instinctively disapprove of this kind of kampung mentality, other fellow malaysians in the rural areas would agree wholeheartedly with it.

    most of the middle class elites (including bloggers such as yourself) don't seem to pay much attention to this, n they tend to b 'puzzled' by how on earth civilized people could talk or think like that.

    that's y, the crucial political battles (to beat BN n all the pitfalls of 'kampung' mentalities such as racism n despise of women) would NOT b fought in the cities/urban centers, but in the rural areas n the kampungs - WHERE BLOGS, INTERNET, WESTERN-INSPIRED HUMAN RIGHTS N FREEDOMS, PROBLEMS OF BRAIN-DRAIN N LOSING OF HIGH-TECH, SOPHISICATED N SKILLED WORKFORCE - your run-of-the-mill middle class, elitist concerns - MEAN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

  2. juslo, you're saying that kampong people treat women like shit?

    Can that be so? I came from a kampong too, and the males I know haven't ever despise or consider women that lowly.

    I disagree with your belief that there is a schism in perceptions of 'decency' between Malaysian urban and rural communities.

    'Decency' is a universal Malaysian value, only broken by certain leadership. It is this crude form of 'leadership' that we must expose.

    If the Malay newspapers have the balls to report such misogynist cases of their leaders with fair editorials or commentaries, I have no doubt the kampong folks would be favourably receptive to upholding 'decency' and calling people like Johari to terms because that virtue is inherent in them.

    In this regards, the Chinese newspapers are more ballsy, which has been why the BN had gone to great length to control them.

  3. KT,

    'you're saying that kampong people treat women like shit?'

    1, well, we r threading on the treacherous waters of 'general impressions' n 'stereotypes' here. note, i was just asking questions here, posing a hypo (i said 'perhaps'), which - i admit - i personally believe to b likely to b true.

    2, they might not blatantly ACT in that way, but MAYBE (again...), they would agree with these 'ppl's reps' bcos the latter r speaking out as their 'id', their 'unconscious', their unstated/unexpressed prejudices.

    3, the kampong folks i know r not as 'decent' as u r. i'm not going so far as to say that they treat women LIKE SHIT, but they certainly think that women have 'their proper place in the world' which is, suffice to say, not the 'same place' as men.

    4, i don't think u can explain their (kampong folks') 'non-reaction' towards these outrageous remarks n thinking by virtue of media bias alone. don't forget that your post about the 'gatal' remark by that pas mp was heavily publicised by none other than UMNO-controlled NST, including awang hadi n pas wanita head's subsequent 'condemnations'.

    5, but i agree with u that these news appear mostly in english n chinese newspapers, not malay. the question is y - n my answer is, maybe bcos only the english reading urbanites, middle class, educated malaysians r interested in these news, while the more rural readership of malay newspapers r less interested.

    6, the fact is, these vip's r completely NOT ASHAMED of what they said - they DON'T hide it. instead, they r PROUD of it. they r broadcasting these in parliament, for crying out loud.

    another fact is, minister after minister, mp after mp, council president etc, r saying n doing these things proudly. it's not an isolated, hidden case.

    compared with the usual british, australian or american politicians who promptly resign upon a slip of their tongues, i cant explain the differences in political cultures except to say that the larger, PUBLIC opinion/culture is different.

    there, there is no ambiguity about what the public can or cannot accept from politicians. every single politician knows where the unwritten line is. here, they might or might not know the 'lines', but judging from their 'repeated offences', they certainly don't give a shit about crossing them or even pissing on them.

    my view is, perhaps that's bcos their 'fan base' is in the kampongs, who don't think it's such a big deal that their daughters (or their sons, for that matter) stop going to school after 11.

    7, u didn't touch on my point about where the crucial political battles would b fought n won - the RURAL areas. i just want to add that:

    a, the way the electoral boundaries r drawn is such that the rural population r over-represented in parliament compared to the urban. u have constituencies of over 100,000 (mainly chinese) voters in klang valley sending ONE mp, same as a rural constituency of, say, kedah, with only 20,000 (malay) voters.

    so, any political party which wants to win majority seats in malaysia's parliament must win enough rural constituencies. those parties (dap, keadilan) who mainly focus on the urban areas n 'urban issues' like human rights n corruption won't stand a chance. what these kampong folks r concerned about is their rice bowl, subsidies, as well as 'honour n historical issues' like race n religion. statistics about economic growth, stock market indices n ownership %, 'competitiveness' n fdi... have no direct relevance to their daily lives at all.

    b, rural folks depend a lot on subsidies n govt handouts. they cant afford to b known that they r not 'supporting the govt'.

    so, we (u, the bloggers, n me, the blog readers) the urban folks can fight our last breathe on 'urban (elitist) issues' but we still wont b in the driving seat to determine malaysia's future.