By Mariam Mokhtar | January 18, 2013
Free Malaysia Today
Umno seems to have a lot of people who open their mouths and put their feet straight into them. That is why few will sympathise with Sharifah Zohra Jabeen, the president of Suara Wanita 1Malaysia (SW1M) who has gone into hiding and is attempting to restore her reputation after she delivered a knockout blow to Umno.
Perhaps, she deserves a tinge of sympathy for having an out-of-body experience; the moment she opened her mouth, all credibility left her body.
Incidentally, from where does SW1M get its funding? Is it the taxpayer or does the money come from abroad?
Incredibly, the other members of her little known organisation are just as blind, and do not think Sharifah’s behavior was appalling. Can anything be clearer?
It is Sharifah’s snobbery and aggression which the rakyat identifies with Umno. Her lack of humility prevented her from apologising for her poor conduct. She is too arrogant to admit that she was wrong and her decision to go into hiding because she says she is being “blackmailed”, shows her cowardice and guilt. Her decision to prolong the issue and not deal decisively and immediately with it, has made her look even more conceited.
Sharifah’s tirade against KS Bawani the law student couldn’t have come at a worse time. The day before, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had tried to take the credit for the incident-free People’s Uprising rally dubbed KL112, but Sharifah’s outburst, has again focused our minds on Umno’s arrogance. Najib was again eclipsed by an arrogant woman.
Umno women, like Sharifah, Norhayati Saiddin, Raja Ropiah Raja Abdullah, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Rosmah Mansor, are poor role models for Malaysian women.
The video clip of the incident was around 24 minutes long, but in that short episode, we witnessed a snapshot of Malaysia as it really is. In real life, we have Umno, the bully party. In the university hall, Umno is personified by Sharifah.
Sharifah talks down to us and tells the students that she has respect for Bawani, despite giving her a public tongue-lashing. Her behaviour is just like Umno which tells us that the reforms are working, that there are low levels of crime in the country, that our education in the best in the world, but at the same time steals from us.
After several hours of listening to the panel members, only two questions were allowed from the floor. Even then, one wonders if the questions had been selected before the talk and did not come from the students themselves.
Drug dealer’s pitbull
Concerned that the students were unable to provide feedback on the talk, Bawani felt compelled to ask some questions. She quoted the High Court ruling on Bersih and corrected SW1M’s assertion that S Ambiga was an anarchist. She then asked for the panel’s opinion on the provision of free education for Malaysian students.
Sharifah, like a drug dealer’s pitbull, was ready to sink her fangs into Bawani, to prevent the other students from “thinking” about greater issues. Perhaps, the only difference between Sharifah and a pitbull is that eventually a pitbull will let go.
Sharifah, in typical Umno fashion, sidestepped Bawani’s questions and prattled on about animals and other unrelated matters – an Umno trick which has been honed to perfection in parliament.
Another similarity with Umno is the way Sharifah held the galaxy lucky draw after the talk. This is just like Umno offering bags of rice and Milo after canvassing.
The fact that the video-clip took one month to surface showed that the university was afraid of the backlash. When only one student appeared to show support for Bawani, the quality of our students, at least in that hall, is questioned. The panel members who failed to stop Sharifah from making a fool of herself, are themselves weak. What is Sharifah to them?
Most of us, despite our racial origins, have been brought up to respect others, but the school of respect Sharifah attended does things differently.
She sees nothing wrong in verbally abusing others in public. She claims she is being respectful, by virtue of shaking their hands first.
When Sharifah talked about respecting elders, did she want us to have respect for leaders who steal from us and take away our dignity?
Perhaps, this is another symptom of an education system gone wrong. Muslim children are given religious education at school and are barred from Moral Studies, when they should be learning alongside their non-Muslim peers, about manners, courtesy and consideration to others.
Sharifah’s SW1M cannot claim to speak for Malaysian women; she certainly does not speak for me.
For all her intellectual snobbery, the mangled English on Sharifah’s SW1M website brought howls of laughter, thus attracting more ridicule on the president, who had sought to browbeat Bawani with boasts about her degree.
Are animals in an animal testing laboratory, which have been conditioned by scientists cleverer than animals in the wild? Sharifah should realise that the attainment of a degree is not as important as the use to which one puts it. A degree is not a badge of honour with which to belittle others.
We are all products of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s divisive doctrines. Whilst many of us try to overturn his racism and look forward to a country with can be proud of its varied population, people like Sharifah feel it convenient to prolong Mahathir’s legacy.
At this crucial time before GE-13, other BN groups have distanced themselves from Sharifah.
Is Sharifah a Malaysian or someone who was put on the fastrack to citizenship?
The Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA) has denounced Sharifah for being difficult. Perhaps, her overbearing nature hides insecurities about her origins. Is this a trait which she shares with another Indian who calls himself a Malay?
In the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) sessions, students are told that all Muslims are considered Malays whatever their racial origins. Thus, any Chinese or Indians who embrace Islam become Malay.
When Sharifah locked eyes with Bawani, in the university hall, did she realise that the only difference between them was religion? These two women could have been twins who were separated at birth, but by virtue of being brought up a Muslim, Sharifah was entitled to all the perks of the bumiputera.
Did she feel morally, intellectually and spiritually superior to Bawani and decide to bully her? Was it fear that made Sharifah lash out? In Bavani, Sharifah saw herself as she might have been, if she or her family had not converted.
If a Malay had posed Bawani’s questions, would Sharifah’s tongue-lashing have been as severe and would she have suggested the questioner go to another country?
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.