MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Confusion continues to rein amongst various Malay groups trying to reconcile their own religious dictates with the realities of daily life.
This time it’s about the role of a widow as an election candidate. The religious “rule” in question says that a widow must not be seen outside her house for the period of iddah, or four months and 10 days after her husband’s demise. By this token she can’t go to work, go out to eat in a restaurant, visit a shopping mall or even visit her relatives. She can’t enjoy herself in any shape or form, or even put on any makeup.
This rule does not apply to a widower (of course), and that’s why some Malay men manage to get married not long after their wives’ demise or after a divorce.
Datin Mastura Yazid, the widow of the late Kuala Kangsar Member of Parliament, must decide if she wants to be a candidate in the by-election. If she does, it must be for her own reasons, and if she doesn’t, then the same must hold true.
But if she is keen to stand for the post, then she must do what other candidates normally have to do: she has to go the nomination centre, campaign house to house and speak her mind on why she wants to be awakil rakyat for Kuala Kangsar.
Mastura must therefore be willing to take leave of her religious obligations regarding iddah. Surely she may be willing to be a candidate because she considers the role of wakil rakyat to be an honourable and important one. It would be because she wants to serve the people, and if in the process of doing so she has to run foul of some religious rules, surely God will understand and forgive her.
If she thinks God will not, then she should not accept the candidacy. Otherwise, election authorities will have to create new rules to accommodate her “religious obligations”, the consequences of which may be harmful to the workings of democracy.
For a start, the Election Commission will have to bend over backwards to accommodate UMNO’s wishes and make a ruling that the candidate need not be present at the nomination centre. This will mean the other candidates wouldn’t need not be there either, including during future elections. The whole atmosphere of an election will not be there.
If a candidate does not campaign, is not seen by community members and does not speak, how can the electorate know if she will make a suitable MP? On what basis can they vote?
Will her pictures be posted on the streets of Kuala Kangsar to tell the people of her candidacy? Maybe the EC will have to ask UMNO about this point as well. Will her posters even be allowed, or will the religious UMNO men have something to say about that? To allow her posters would mean to allow her to campaign, and that’s not permitted according to the religious men. What about her picture on the ballot paper? Will this be allowed?
Malays must stop causing problems for themselves if they want to play an important part in the real world. They must be able to decide what is important to them. If they want to follow to the letter what their religious men tell them, then they should go ahead — but don’t do that at the expense of what has been accepted as standard practice in the real world. The real world operates differently, a fact they need to recognise quickly.
In any event I feel sorry for Kuala Kangsar voters who voted for Mastura. She will not be able to go out and serve her constituency until mid August, wheh her iddah period expires. If Kuala Kangsar voters want a proper wakil rakyat, they have to vote someone else. -zaid.my

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