Archive for May 24th, 2007

Samy Vellu sexist – comparing dilapidated 43-yr-old Parliament with 50 yr-old woman

by Loh Cheng Kooi

Barely has the dust of the “bocor incident” settled in the House of Parliament when we are jolted with yet another gender insensitive statement. It is outrageous that the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu finds it necessary to draw a parallel between the dilapidated state of the 43 year old Parliament House which is in need of maintenance and renovation to the looks of a woman of 50 years. This is not the first time the Minister has made such statements. In October 2005, he was quoted to have compared “toilets to new brides”.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) finds it is inexcusable that one of the longest serving Cabinet Ministers in the country chose a sexist comment to make his point on the need for renovation works on the Parliament House. His remarks reinforce the gender stereotype that a woman’s worth lies with her extrinsic attributes (looks) and not with her intrinsic qualities as a human being. His statement and comparison are demeaning and an affront to women of all ages as they reduce women to objects of beauty, depreciating in value over time.

The Works Minister’s comment taken together with the recent ‘bocor’ remark, also makes a mockery of the role and function of the Gender Cabinet Committee on Gender Equality and the government’s ratification of the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as well as the Federal Constitution which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. Read the rest of this entry »


Cabinet got time for Manchester United but no time for Building Bridges Inter-faith Dialogue

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is again on an international tour to preach to foreign audiences his message of inter-civilisational, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, understanding, goodwill and peace.

Speaking two days ago at the Meiji University in Tokyo, where he was conferred an honorary doctorate, Abdullah said that dialogue between cultures and civilisations has now become another pre-condition to achieving the global goals of peace, security and prosperity.

He said dialogue could bridge the gap and generate greater understanding between cultures and civilisations especially between the West and the world of Islam.

He said: “This dialogue is essential to expose and establish the fact that Islam is a religion which espouses universalism, not exclusivity. Islam is a religion which does not make any distinction between race or culture.”

The university had specially requested Abdullah to speak on Islam and Islam Hadhari for his keynote address on “Bridging the Gap Between Cultures and Civilisations”.

It is sad and even pathetic however that the Prime Minister’s international message is being ignored locally, even by his own Cabinet. Read the rest of this entry »


Don’t ban it if you don’t get it

Don’t ban it if you don’t get it
Azly Rahman

There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance. – Goethe, German philosopher

The Internal Security Ministry denied that it had seized 10 copies of the book on May 13, clarifying that it had only taken the books to check the contents. The books would be returned if they contained nothing that violated the Printing Press and Publications Act 1984.

Deputy Minister Fu Ah Kiow said news reports stating that the books were seized were incorrect and believed that the matter was being deliberately blown out of proportion to gain publicity. “It is just a very ordinary procedure, something that the officers will do if they receive reports about any publication that may be unfavourable for the public.

“They will still carry out their duties even if there is no report,” he told reporters. Fu was asked to comment on the books taken from a bookstore in Mid-Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. Fu said his officers were still reading the contents.’ (The Star)

The above news report still amplified the culture of book banning we have had since independence. To be telling schoolchildren and parents that we ban books is not conveying a smart message for our smart schools. Why not tell these children to think and think freely and to read and read voraciously? Why use the schools to promote the message of active ignorance?

Active ignorance

In our history, one of the most famous books banned was of course The Malay Dilemma by a medical doctor from Titi Gajah, Kedah. The author later became Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, staying in power for 22 years. We banned Kassim Ahmad, Othman Ali, Karen Armstrong, and many work of national and international authors who proposed new line of thinking about society. We ban good movies on the Malaysian early political experience that tries to enrich our youth with a radical perspective of this nation and its narration.

We were even afraid of our respectable social scientist Dr. Lim Teck Ghee’s Asli findings on the New Economic Policy, written with such a refreshing and constructivist perspective. Through the repressive Internal Security Act, we jailed out intellectuals — without trial — people like Lim Kit Siang, Dr Syed Husin Ali, Kassim Ahmad, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, and many others who lived their lives presenting alternative viewpoints for a better Malaysian future. We have installed a government of active ignorance, interested in the advancement of poor understanding of human development. We continue to live a national life of contradiction. Read the rest of this entry »