Najib – a man trying to do a woman’s job

by Mariam Mokhtar
Oct 8, 2012

It is wrongly believed that when women speak, men only hear nagging.

The tragic prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is under intense pressure at home, should refrain from bringing his domestic problems into the workplace. For him to dismiss the need for a women’s rights movement in Malaysia is premature and daft.

Millions of women in Malaysia face violence, intimidation and other prejudices, in private, at work and in public. The instruments of the state and the Syariah Court have failed to deal with their problems.

The PM opined that “equality has been given from the start”for Malaysian women.

In the first instance, neither he nor his party gave women that equality. It was the British colonial administration which gave the women of Malaya schooling. Despite that, they still had to fight for jobs, demand equal pay and battle other forms of discrimination.

What was Najib trying to prove, when he took on the role of minister for women, family and community development? That he is a super-man? Or a super-hero? Or was this a Malay male conspiracy to reduce the increasing influence of women? Women like Ambiga Sreenevasan, Maria Chin Abdullah and Cynthia Gabriel.

Najib is probably unaware that men cannot multi-task. Has he tried to juggle a career and start a family at the same time? Has he put himself in the shoes of a working mother, whose work is never done? Women return home only to continue with household chores, childcare, supervision of homework, shopping and for some, caring for their elderly parents.

A woman is better at listening, is more empathetic than her male counterpart, is able to read between the lines and is a better observer. If Najib had any peripheral vision, he would ‘see’ the multitude of problems faced by women in Malaysia and rectify them. His tunnel vision prevents him from seeing that the Malay community is beset with the problems of single mothers, abandoned wives and broken families.

Many Malay men will protect their right to polygamy, but reject the responsibilities towards their wives. Some discard their wives with gay abandon, and make no provision for maintenance and childcare.

Many women give up good jobs to bring up their children and support their husbands while they build their careers. When they are abandoned, the women have to depend on hand-outs or part-time work.

Perhaps, as a means of cushioning their daughters from irresponsible men, some fathers have urged their daughters to be financially independent, by giving them a sound education and a head-start in life.

Although studies may show that women comprise 50-60 percent of the tertiary student population, Najib was wrong to criticise women for constituting only 40 percent of the workforce: “It’s a waste as we spend a lot of money sending women to university but they quit their jobs later. We want them to have families and still work.”

When working women marry, they find that childcare is both expensive and unpredictable. The influx of families to towns and cities means that support from extended families is absent. Furthermore, very few companies provide flexi-time to accommodate the woman’s needs for a family life.

Lack of aspiration

If Najib wants something to chew on, he might like to ponder the lack of aspiration of some of today’s young Malay women. They have no desire to study hard but instead, target middle-aged and established, married Malay men to become the second, third or fourth wife. They are not bothered if the marriage lasts. They are content provided they have a child from the union, a house, a car and access to the man’s pension fund.

If the PM is unconvinced, he should seek the opinions of first and perhaps second or third wives.

A union should be made to last, but in one corner of the Malay world, a union is only till the next sweet-young-thing comes along, or for the modern, material girl, till an old, wealthy man is hooked.

When Najib said the women’s rights movement has no place in Malaysia, was he afraid of the growing influence of women, or was he fearful of PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s announcement that the opposition would empower women rather than adopt the Umno attitude of enslaving them? Najib has also failed to meet the requirement for 30 percent representation of women in Parliament.

A few years ago, Ahmad Shah Mohd Zin, the secretary-general of the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Service, complained that too many women were in decision making roles in the administrative and diplomatic service.

Soon after this, the National Population and Family Development Board announced that women should have more babies and not put off marriage. They saw that fertility rates had dropped from 3.4 in 1995 to 2.2 in 2007.

In BN, female politicians are allowed to debate a proposed Bill in parliament, but are banned from voting with the dictates of their conscience. They are forced to be subservient and toe the BN line.

Female politicians like the Umno senior exco member for Perak, Hamidah Osman aka ‘Snake Woman’, provide poor role models for women. Hamidah rejected the idea of a woman menteri besar (MB) because, “a MB would have to meet religious officers and the sultan”.

No reason to fear women

Under Najib, women’s issues are swept under the carpet. Fatimah Abdullah, the Sarawak assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, failed to speak up for the Penan girls who were raped and sexually exploited by the timber loggers.

Also, in Najib’s administration, women continue to be used and abused. Rapists are free to pursue their bright careers whilst victims are hung out to dry.

Of course, Malaysia is seen as a progressive nation when compared to other Muslim countries. Our women can still drive cars, unlike in Saudia Arabia. Our women are merely flogged and imprisoned for pre-marital sex, and not stoned as in Afghanistan.

If men like Najib had their way, it would not be long before women were barred from certain university courses, as the government of Iran announced last month. In the past few days, IKEA had air-brushed women from catalogues meant for the Saudi market.

Najib should stop pandering to the wishes of the male chauvinists and clerics in his political and social circles. Declining birth rates, better educational standards for women and the increasing numbers of female professionals in industry, should not be a reason to fear women.

Najib’s lust for control is destroying the rakyat, more than it is ruining him. He cannot fill the shoes of a prime minister. As finance minister, he is careless with money. Is he also drawing the salary of the minister for women?

Najib may have been emasculated by his wife, but he still cannot do the job of a woman.


MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 5:26 pm

    A woman have different organs and personality.
    How can Najib does a woman job…unless he is a half man…half woman.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 5:33 pm

    A woman can give birth.
    Can Najib do that?
    A woman have breasts with milk.
    Can Najib be like that?
    There are distinct women’s and men’s jobs.
    Why was Shahrizat given that post in the first place..if a man can do it?
    By holding onto that Ministerial post…..Najib is insulting all Wanita Umno b politicians.
    Women can suffer insults and pains in silence.
    And Najib’s insults to Wanita Umno B members will make more Muslims hate him.
    Najib’s dirty politic have made him more and more weird.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 5:38 pm

    Woman love to use lipsticks to paint their lips red.’
    Strange as it may seem….Najib lips can turn pink without lipstick.
    That is an unusual gift he got…..hahahahahahaha
    Men identify that as one “turn yellow” in a fight…a coward…but to go beyond yellow…that’s extreme cowardice character….but he is a PM…and that makes him a dangerous wounded man…going all out to save himself.

  4. #4 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 5:44 pm

    However….millions of eyes are watching his pink lips goes no further…except revealing his fears.
    Being appointed PM…he has big big problems in his own party…where time and time again…it shows so many law makers within his party do not respect him at all.
    As such…he is a wounded man…cannot do anything to stop 13th GE.
    The show will go on.

  5. #5 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 6:05 pm

    What Najib is also telling all…he can do a woman’s job…but not one woman can do his job….or be a PM.
    A man like Najib….trying to do a woman’s job…is another first in the world.
    Goodness gracious me…how many first trophies he wants to win?

  6. #6 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 6:18 pm

    Just because Rosmah has equal rights or more than equal rights in the PM’s residence does not mean all women enjoy the same degree of equality.

    Ahoi Ah Jib Kor, Malaysian women face more glass ceilings than most advanced countries.
    Should we have third-world women in a first-world infrastructure managed by a third-world PM and govrnment?


  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 7:01 pm

    I have greatest respect for Mariam but am afraid she has let her emotions get the better of her when she talks about Najib cannot quite do a woman’s job. In the first place don’t be personal about people “emasculated by his wife”, whether true or not, its nothing to do with his capability to do the job. Secondly who says only a woman is qualified to be a minister for women, family and community development, and not a man? Shouldn’t qualifications for that job be measured against capability than gender/sex? Why is Sharizat more qualified-cos she’s a woman? To assert so we’re in danger of seeing ministry from culture lenses ie that when it comes to matters /policies relating to women, family and community development, women have better sensitivity and capability than men. That itself is as sexist and cultural stereotyping as the perception is that men are better suited than women to run the Ministries of Works, Finance, Science Technology and Innovation!

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 7:02 pm

    Continuation from preceding post under moderation: Mariam must also realise that when she argues that Najib does nothing about “many Malay men protecting their right to polygamy, but reject the responsibilities towards their wives with gay abandon with women depending on hand-outs or part-time work” this becomes an issue touching on culture as influenced by Religion, and debate becomes unclear whether one is questioning Najib/govt’s lack of concern for gender equality issues or over emphasizing too much on Religion and Islamisation for political votes. That’s another sphere of debate altogether because by comparative standards, the secular laws here are quite favourable to non muslim women. However when one brings in Religion or Islamic laws, that’s another area altogether because they take reference from religious texts and not western mores and equality values in men and woman relationship.

  9. #9 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - 9:50 pm

    It seems…everything under Najib is for show only.
    His position as PM is for show…no real power.
    His Woman Ministry is for show.
    What has he done or said about rapes…zilch.
    He held few Ministerial posts…and only as Minister of Defense he shines like a beacon… deal…steal more than RM700 million as “commission” and one enemy’s mouth shut for good.
    Mahathir said…U students should not be involved in politics.
    Najib said…women rights has no place in Malaysia.
    Mahathir is afraid of smart young Malaysians.
    Najib is afraid of 2 women… Ambiga and Cynthia Gabriel.

  10. #10 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 - 12:18 am

    Jeffrey, ok, Mariam may have got a little carried away with her remark about the ’emasculated male’. On the other hand, she may have a point. That is the public perception about our emasculated PM. He couldn’t fire Shahrizat and can take any amount of heat from the de facto PM, Rosmah. Mahathir appears like an emasculated has-been with Rosmah in the driver’s seat, or so it appears.

    Well, do u think Najib shud hv taken on Ministry of Women’s affairs? It really is unseemly like Ah Jib Kor is trying to wear the skirt in a woman’s world. Hey, Jib, your slip is showing! Only a woman understands the depths, breadth and heights of the travails of womenhood.

    Lissten, the only 2 other BN MPs in the same league as Jib who can be considered for the position of Woman’s Minister would be Bung Kinabatangan and loud-mouthed Aziz what’s-that-name-again? from Johor.

  11. #11 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 - 12:50 am

    ///Well, do u think Najib shud hv taken on Ministry of Women’s affairs?/// He may be doing it not because he’s chauvinistic – thinking he could do better that job than a woman minister preceding him. He may be doing it at the bidding of a woman or her supporters ie a deal to temporarily hold the post as custodian and not give it to rival within that wanita wing so that rival could build up patronage support – till NFC controversy blows over – and returning it in due course to her. On would recall how difficult it was to get her to resign in first place when NFC scandal costs BN votes. Why should she resign? (She was not involved in approving the soft loan to NFC). She is holding the trump card and ever ready to spill the beans on every else that might have been involved if she were pushed to the corner. Najib was simply pressured between the need to have her go to diffuse the controversy and on the other hand to appease her lest she refused to go or else spill the beans. Its nothing to do with him trying to arrogate unto himself the understanding of ‘the depths, breadth and heights of the travails of womenhood.’ Its not a gender related issue as many make it to be. Like in PKFZ why was Tun Ling charged with a charge destined to fail to stick? In Boleh land nothing appears the way it looks. There’s always a deal/compromise behind certain actions.

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 - 1:20 am

    It is skewed to look at every issue from gender men vs women perspectives and interpret it as men’s bias, glass ceiling etc. Eg Maria’s remark “in BN, female politicians are allowed to debate a proposed Bill in parliament, but are banned from voting with the dictates of their conscience. They are forced to be subservient and toe the BN line.” Is this true? Are male BN politicians allowed to vote with the dictates of their conscience that women BN politicians are not? All are subject to vote party line under the shadow of party whip! The remark that “union should be made to last, but in one corner of the Malay world, a union is only till the next sweet-young-thing comes along, or for the modern, material girl, till an old, wealthy man is hooked…” Come on, that applies not only to one corner of “Malay world” but every corner of non Malay world or even the whole wide world…She keeps on saying that govt oblivious of Malay men being chauvinistic with polygamy or being irresponsible etc – is that a quarrel with the govt’s gender inequality tendencies or actually an argument with socio-cultural values as influenced by religious prescriptions or NEP’s effects? The problem is if you keep looking at every issue along gender lines, you become tunnel vision on what’s really the explanation- like for eg taking over Sharizat’s post. Has it occurred to Mariam that its not because the PM thinks he can do a woman’s job but actually he’s taking it on in compromise to demands of a woman for agreeing to temporarily vacate the seat to diffuse heat from NFC ?

  13. #13 by monsterball on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 - 3:53 pm

    The one country Najib can run Scotland where he can wear skirts and no one will laugh at him.
    The problem is…maybe Scotland do not want him at all.

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