A condemnation of Shahrizat Jalil’s statement against Ambiga Sreenavasan, and a call for women to walk with BERSIH 2.0.
I am greatly frustrated by the media circus surrounding the civil society led movement to institute clean and fair elections which has dominated media of late. However, I really became enraged by Shahrizat’s obtuse rambling online via YouTube. I felt greatly alarmed at the level of personal attacks Shahrizat would descend to in order to please her political masters.
Her public stand against Ambiga Sreenevasan who is the chairperson of the BERSIH 2.0, is a deliberate attempt at discrediting another woman’s effort to bring about much needed democratic reform in the elections process. BERSIH 2.0 has been a movement to increase the awareness of Malaysians of the electoral abuses and manipulations which are perpetrated by the powers that be. It is the inherent political right of a Malaysian to determine that her/his votes are protected and reflective of the individual’s choice.
Shahrizat claims that Ambiga’s involvement in BERSIH 2.0 is a camouflage for her apparent political ambitions. In fact, she supports the comment made by a male politician who advised Ambiga to gain membership into a political party in order to agitate for her demands and not to use BERSIH 2.0 for personal gain. This is highly ironic coming from the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development who is responsible for the dismal representation of women in parliament. There has been little done by her to bring about real advancement in this area.
Women have a right to agitate for change, especially if it is to uphold democracy and strengthen public institutions. Fear-mongering Shahrizat is telling women that they should not participate in movements which bring about change, and they should toe in line with the agenda dictated by men. She shows women how to do this when she parrots what has been programmed by her masters, that any demand for reform is an attack on Najib’s administration. Her comments of Ambiga reflect the negative stereotypes that echo in the mouths and minds of sexist male politicians, such as Bung Mokhtar and Ibrahim Ali.
To her credit, Ambiga’s ability to lead has been proven during her tenure as a Bar Council President, when lawyers took a strong stand and called for reforms of the judiciary. She has consistently been part of initiatives which promote human rights and social justice. She is also a wonderful role model to women, as a professional who has risen to become the President of the Bar Council.
As a woman I feel enraged and saddened to see women pitted against each other to further a patriarchal supremacist agenda.
Malaysian women, I urge you to walk with BERSIH 2.0 come 9 July 2011. We have much to be unhappy about, as the state has failed to protect our rights as voters and citizens when it manipulates and buys our votes to hold on to power.
Let them hear the voices and witness the strength of women in bringing about the much needed changes to our beloved Malaysia.
Janarthani is a feminist first and foremost. She works with women from marginalized communities in order to empower them and build their leadership within their circles of influence. She feels Malaysian women have yet to experience equality in most aspects of their lives. True equality can only be achieved when women directly influence policies and laws of this nation. Incidentally, she believes Malaysia is finally ready for a female Prime Minister. This article was first posted by her on Facebook.