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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shahrizat’s spectacular failure to lead

Shahrizat’s spectacular failure to lead

When Bung Moktar blamed reckless drivers, “especially women drivers”, for being a major cause of traffic accidents, the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil sent out a tweet which said: "Should I or should I not take YB Bung Mokhtar for a ride to prove to him that women are good drivers? Hehe..."

If Shahrizat thinks that Bung Moktar Radin’s remarks are amusing, then is it any wonder sexist politicians like him continue to degrade women at every opportunity?

Bung Mokhtar then had the cheek to claim he was targeted by “women’s groups” and that the opposition had twisted his words to make him appear sexist.

This arrogant man is a known sexist. Each time he belittles women, the Speaker in the Dewan Rakyat has always failed to censure him. Sadly, that is the culture in our Dewan Rakyat.

This time, Bung Moktar realised that he would have to face the rising tide of condemnation from both politicians and the general public. He then backpedalled and said that he was merely referring to the high accident rate cause by roads not being tarred.

But he put his foot in it again when he started to patronise women with remarks such as “Women are gifts from Allah who should be taken care of as best possible...” and “Please don't think I am sexist or your enemy, I take care of them (women) too.”

Sexist men like Bung Moktar are a dime a dozen in Malaysia. They are insensitive to the feelings of other people, principally women. Without their material goods or bullying tendencies, there is little that is attractive about them. Sadly, our culture cultivates men like them.

When insufficient numbers of Malaysian women refuse to stand up to men like Bung Moktar, these arrogant men think they have done nothing wrong and so continue belittling women.

It is how a bully works – they target someone who is seen to be weak. However, as soon as the victim stands up for himself, the bully backs off.

Thus when Bung Moktar said women drivers were reckless, Shahrizat should have come down hard on him.

Is she not our Women minister after all? If she thinks what Bung Moktar said was a laughing matter, then she should not pretend to represent the women of Malaysia, and perhaps resign her ministerial post.

The MP from Kinabatangan is a confirmed sexist. He thinks nothing of being rude to women and thinks that being crude and coarse in the Dewan Rakyat is amusing or perhaps macho.

Shahrizat’s tweeter remarks are irresponsible and damaging. For generations, women in modern Malaysia struggled to reach the peak of their professions, their paths usually obstructed by prejudice or tradition.

Some women found it convenient to blame men for hindering their careers, and for the difficulties in achieving gender equality.

But Shahrizat failed to lead and show men like Bung Moktar that it is not acceptable to be sexist. She should have demanded an apology and make him retract his statements. She should not have treated his insult lightly or even joke about taking him for a ride.

Shahrizat missed a golden opportunity to show judgement, clarity and vision. We cannot depend on her to provide a good role model for women. It is all the more shameful because this is the 100th year we celebrate International Women’s Day. - Malaysia Chronicle

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