Mariam Mokhtar | August 9, 2013
If Malaysia is to reform, then Malay women must lead the fight.
Most Malaysians believe that Umno Baru and Perkasa champion Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy); but actually Ketuanan Melayu should be renamed Ketuanan Lelaki Melayu (Malay male supremacy or KLM).
Over the years, the Muslim girl, or particularly the Malay girl, is an easy target for the holier-than-thou types. In Malaysia, there is no equality between the races or sexes. Non-Malays are inferior, and the Malay woman is subservient to the male.
Malay men who want the ultimate say, will threaten their wives with divorce or that they will marry a younger wife. In Malay society, threats of eternal damnation also have a hold on women.
If Malaysia is to reform, then Malay women must lead the fight. If a non-Malay were to lead the way, this struggle would be construed, by Umno Baru, as ‘communist inspired’ or a plot by the Singaporean Chinese to assume control over Malaysia.
Currently, Umno Baru Malay men hold the reins of power. They are prepared to cheat and perhaps kill, to protect their turf. They refuse to move out of their comfort zone.
Many Malays forget that there should be equality in Islam; nevertheless, Malay men exert their authority, using religion as their tool. Perhaps, the thought of 72 Vestal virgins waiting in heaven, is a prime motivator for them to stamp their authority on earth.
Days after the Miss Malaysia World 2013 beauty contest debacle broke, it was the turn of dog lover, Maznah Mohd Yusof to face the wrath of the sanctimonious men from the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi).
Maznah is correct to stand her ground. She has done nothing wrong. Rational thinking Muslims were not insulted.
A few years ago, Kartika Dewi Sukarno incurred the wrath of the religious authorities for drinking beer. Her personal life was dragged into public view. It caused a breakdown of her marriage and further family tragedy befell her.
Malay men will exact the most severe punishment and humiliation on Malay girls who possess free spirits and minds of their own.
Soon after the Kartika incident, three Malay girls were whipped for having sex outside of marriage. Little is heard of the men with whom they were having a dalliance.
In other cases, men who committed statutory rape were released or given the choice of marrying the underage girls, thus prolonging their humiliation. What future has a girl who has to give up her education and become a sexual aid, to a sexually depraved man who will soon tire of her?
The visibly crestfallen Muslim finalists of Miss Malaysia World 2013 were informed by Anna Lim, the contest organiser, of the final decision of Jawi, that Muslim women could not enter the competition.
Anna failed to reach a settlement with Jawi despite her best efforts. She realised the destructive impact of Muslim women being prevented from fulfilling their ambition.
She said, “While the other finalists are geared-up for the contest, the Muslim women are left with shattered dreams…”
Many Malaysians will empathise with the four Muslim finalists – Sara Amelia Bernard, Wafa Johanna de Korte, Miera Sheikh and Kathrina Ridzuan – and Maznah, the dog-trainer. They were threatened with fines and jail. They also had to endure insults and threats on social media sites.
The feelings of betrayal and rejection which these girls felt, are experienced by many non-Malays with potential in academia or some other industry. Quotas in education and similar fields, deny Malaysians from fulfilling their aspiration.
People are left frustrated. Some become bitter, others simply move on. Malaysians who want to contribute towards a better nation are denied the opportunity.
Those who think that all scholarships are given to deserving Malays are wrong. Many wealthy Malays with political connections grab the places which should otherwise have gone to poor Malays.
In the Miss Malaysia World debacle, Jawi has said that entering the beauty contest is sinful. Many Muslims maintain that the girls will be exposing their aurat. What is the definition of aurat? Isn’t aurat the sexual organs or the intimate parts of the body?
These girls are not displaying their assets like they would in the Playboy mansion. They are not auditioning for a place in a bordello. They are not in training to be guest-relations-officers (GROs).
Today’s beauty contest is a test of personality, charm, intellect, self-confidence, perseverance, communication skills and the ability to think on one’s feet. It is a highly competitive field.
All the beauty contest aspirants have been given a strict directive to dress modestly. The finals of Miss World will be held in Sentul (West Java) and Bali. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country.
To the civilized world, Malaysian ulamas seem to act like the Taliban. Umno Baru’s Najib Tun Razak wrongly claims that Malaysia is a moderate Muslim nation.
If the non-Muslim finalists in the Miss Malaysia World 2013 had downed their sashes to show their support for their Malay counterparts, Jawi would have been vilified by most Malaysians.
Jawi’s interference in the beauty contest is not about religion. It is politics Umno Baru style.
If the non-Muslim finalists had refused to continue until their Malay peers were reinstated, their political statement would have reverberated around the world; but to ask that of the girls, would be asking too much.
Ugliness of Umno Baru
Talent should not be denied a chance to flourish. Perhaps, some groups will highlight the plight of the Malay beauties at the finals in Indonesia. The battle between the Malay beauties and the beasts is not over yet.
Jawi claims that there is a long-standing fatwa against the participation of Malay girls in beauty contests. Most people are not aware that a fatwa is just an opinion or guide, to how one should lead one’s life as a good Muslim.
Only under syiah rule can a fatwa become a law, without first being debated in, and enacted by parliament.
The banning of the four Muslim girls in the beauty contest exposed the ugliness of Umno Baru.
This ban may have instilled a bitter resentment in Malays, just as the deep sense of betrayal in the non-Malays over the race-based policies they face in everyday life.
Beautiful Malay girls are denied the right to exploit their beauty, especially as winners of beauty contests frequently progress to successful careers.
The ban on Malay girls entering beauty contests, and Malays with dogs, is about bullying and controlling Muslims.
It is also to divide Malays from non-Malays. It is to increase the segregation started by former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
If Malay girls do not fight to regain their rights, their beauty will be snatched from them today, and perhaps, their brains (an education) tomorrow.
Who knows what other personal liberties Jawi and Umno Baru will strip from Muslims, if we do not make a stand.
Footnote: Selamat Hari Raya to everyone. Maaf zahir dan batin. When you balik kampung, spread peace and goodwill, and tell everyone you can about the injustices of Umno Baru. sourced: muslim-girls-are-easy-targets
My Rambling Thots and say :
Like the desert Arabs of old warring tribes ,the men jealously guarding their harem of their possesion of females . Making sure that the limited population of ladies in the old feudal days are kept out of sight in their respective tribes , hidden in their tents
And that the men’s personal collection of wives are properly wrapped up to resemble walking tents with only just eyes showing to hide their features lest they tempt other men in their communities to become women snatchers ,driven to wanton lustful desires and so may rob the men owners of these females of their prized possesions – their baby making and lust gratifying machines.
Doesn’t anyone in the religious bodies in Malaysia recognise or admire beauty and intellect of the female gender for solely their own sake and merits.?
Instead of always harping on the impropriety in behaviour or on the sexual provocation and inappropriate dress code that clearly leans towards favouring the whimsical chauvinistic views of male dominated perceptions of Females..
Practices and attitudes towards women based on absurd laws or religious edicts from an era two thousand years past that still survive to this day in the Arabic to middle eastern world. Most extreme from the Talibans whose treatment of their womenfolk borders on inhuman lunacy.
And in Malaysia , although not so extreme in the religious laws and abusive brutality in treatment of women but the mentality behind the male chauvinistic mindsets of dominance over the weaker fairer gender and the female’s perceived inferiority does exist in subtle form , disguised behind the cloak of religion and etiquette of what is acceptable public dressing and behaviour – determined by men – rules or laws mainly declared by men so as to not offend the sensitivities of the dominant sex and not to be sexually provocative in dressing , speech and mannerisms or risk incurring the wrath of disapproval and scorn from the men.
Because the emotional considerations of menfolk , in becoming victims of temptation and risks of succumbing to their lustful thoughts because of women , must be avoided at all cost. therefore such considerations overrides all priorities , rights , respect and dignities of women.
The pettiness of the Goverment appointed religious watchdogs Jawi , Jakim , Jais and the other religious NGOs just gets most people cynical of their sanctimonious attitude , in the selective religious causes they deem to be an affront to Islamic affairs.Whereas the more severe abuses and offenses to their noble religion commited by influential public figures , and not a peep nor whimper is heard from them.!
Instead , picking on poor petite Malaysian darlings that could have show cased the exquisite , exotic beauty of modern Malay/Muslim women , with poise , elegance and intelligence , that can demonstrate to the world that Malaysian Malay women are a force to be reckoned and a people to be admired as a progressive and moderate nation with a marjority muslim society.
Projecting Malaysia to an international audience as a modern progressive country with a diverse multi racial / religious setting of the people .
The Malay/Muslims contestants could have represented that there is a balanced mix of a conservatism and progressive Malaysian muslim society . And the overall thinking or attitudes of Malaysian muslims. Millions of TV audiences worldwide following the beauty pageant could have gotten an impression of Malaysia vis the beautiful ambassadors of the country..showcasing to the whole world that Malay/Muslim women have a combination of both beauty and brains in respectable moderation , and that a fine tuned balance between religious conservatism and progressive interpretation of doctrines is possible.
Creating an impression that there are variations to the Islamic faith and not just one violent extremist version from one part of the world. A religion often misunderstood as a very angry , violent and unforgiving.
Since Malaysia professes to be a moderate practitioner of the Islamic faith among her adherents in the country’s muslim marjority society. It will help their cause to foster a better understanding of the compassionate and the other beautiful virtues that Islam is about.
Alas , the country’s religious authorities has the Taliban influenced misogynistic mindsets making sure that is not to be. !
The Talibans and few other Islamic countries from a common region have chosen to have their mindsets entrenched in a time warp and refuse to budge from their chauvinistic attitudes from their feudalistic and desert tribal cultural backgrounds since the days of the Prophet ,rules and punishment necessary to maintain a control and discipline over their ways of lives and which they have adapted and imposed onto their religion .
Does Malaysian Islamic religious authorities subscribe to that version and thinking?
These sexist chauvinistic moral guardians of Malaysian muslim women’s dignities and decorum will probably not even think twice about making snide or even lewd comments using all sorts of disgustingly derogatory name calling of ladies of all religious faiths , who they feel is dressed / act inappropriately or provocatively according to their self imposed standards..but there is doubt whether that their own world views , deeds and actions in their personal lives can accurately reflect onto the high sanctimonious moral ground they champion, in according respect to one and all, esp of the fairer gender.
Wonder if they even have women in their organizations that are influential on an equal standing and learned enough in Islamic religious affairs , who are involved in consultations, discussions or dialogue among themselves in the decision making process determining the broadcasting of what religious decries / edicts or Fatwas that directly impacts muslim women / men and their daily lives , in the country.
Or are they just behaving like a troop of testosterone fuelled gorillas , bulldozing their sexist chauvinistic views , forced upon vulnerable Malaysian Malay/muslim women’s psyche and lives , using religion and the antiquated laws from a bygone era thousands of years in the past,that were designed around the mindsets and attitudes of a hiearchical society of desert kingdoms and warring feudalistic tribal way of life ( where men outnumber women , where women were treated as valuable possesions , that needed to be hidden away out of sight , lest they get robbed of their prized possesions) ,with very stern punitive laws to have a measure of control over violent and warring mindsets of these ancient people. The rich/strong overpowering the weak/meek. Desert laws of survival..
Laws from a completely different age and era from today , many of these laws have not been tweaked in adapting to the advancement of modern society. Or applying a variation in interpretation from the religious authorities as to the role of women in the Islamic context , Then and Now .
With emphasis on regarding the modern woman and to accord respect of the rights and equality of roles of Malaysian muslim women in the current post – modernist era. even as the march of The 21st century rolls by,