Press Statement dated 6 June 2016
There is an apparent inertia when it comes to gender equality in Malaysia’s political landscape. No doubt Anwar Ibrahim is the iconic figure most supported as the PM candidate, with the President of Keadilan, Wan Azizah willing to be the interim PM while the process of #BebasAnwar gets sorted out. Still, there is still a void which nobody, especially Muslim women dare to even think about.
The gracious, gentle and reluctant politician, as we all come to know fondly as Kak Wan, has been consistently supportive of Keadilan’s ‘Reformasi’ cause, central to the #BebasAnwar movement. Many of the key supporters are loyal to this cause and although it is the main driver behind Keadilan as a party, there should be, a plan B or plan C. Kak Wan's role as the interim PM must be strengthened further to propel our women's agenda into the next millennia.
At the very least, Mahathir has offered to be the next reluctant PM, but this is still subject to the approval of the Presidential Council. As Anwar says, Mahathir cannot simply volunteer to be the PM. Keadilan and Anwar Ibrahim has always been the uniting factor for the opposition bloc, which recently, accepted Bersatu and Amanah into the Pakatan fold. As unfortunate as it may seem, Pakatan Rakyat was the most suitable name for the coalition until the Sec-Gen of DAP declared unilaterally that PR was dead. Ideally, the coalition could be named Pakatan Keadilan Rakyat.
The PM candidate is still between the heavyweights like Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir and to a lesser degree Muhyiddin or even Mukhriz. As much as Rafizi Ramli wants to be part of the PM candidate nominee, he still has much to achieve in terms of rallying for a united support from the grassroots, something that Azmin Ali keeps close to his chest.
What is really missing in this less than perfect race for the top post is the lack of women representation. What this country needs is a choice of credible and influential women leaders that will enhance and give new life to the political scenario in Malaysia.
Leaders such as Zuraida Kamaruddin, chief of Wanita Keadilan, or even Nurul Izzah, daughter of Anwar Ibrahim should be presented as likely choices for the Prime Minister post. Even if this is not viable for now, women leaders should still be given an opportunity at it to allow the voters time to warm-up to the idea of having a woman PM in the future. Ultimately, the voters have the final say, but it is the political pact’s responsibility to provide this choice to voters.
In line with this, there should also be a choice of women candidates presented for the posts of Menteri Besar and Chief Minister.
Women are often shy of leadership positions and those who have made it so far should receive as much support as possible from within the party and public, especially women. How many women are willing to sacrifice their family time and other goals simply to pursue justice for the public?
If Pakatan were to be any different from Barisan Nasional, presenting women as PM, MB and CM candidates will definitely be a giant step forward. We need to drive home the point of empowering women to stamp out inequality in our society.
Communications Chief for Women’s Wing
Parti Keadilan Rakyat
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Friday, October 14, 2016
From left: Ms Chinta, ASP Riza, YB Lee Khai Loon, YB Teh Yee Cheu, Zulfakri, Ustaz Khairol
TG Symposium: Arrest and Detention
Transgenders fear harassment during arrest and detention, and a symposium organised by the Transgender Committee set up by the State Assembly of Penang brought both transgenders and the authorities together to discuss the situation. Also involved in the organising of this event was Justice for Sisters, SUARAM Penang and PACA.
Documented stories of how transgenders are being mistreated and ostracised by the authorities are plenty, and there should be policies and guidelines to resolve this issue. State Assemblyman for Tanjong Bunga, YB Teh Yee Cheu requested that the authorities invite a transgender to be present during body checks, to which the police replied that the suggestion will be forwarded to her superiors.
According to the Assistant Superintendant Rizatulmi Haizaran Binti Samat from the police forces’ sexual harassment department, five transgenders were detained so far this year, of which, 3 were foreigners and 2 were Malaysians. Detainees are separated in lock-ups according to their assigned gender registered on their identification cards. Presently, transgender women who are detained by the police are listed under the category known as ‘Mak Nyah’.
“Problems arise when the police need to make body checks,” she said. “Men are frisked by men officers, and women by the women officers.
“However, when a transgender is involved, and especially when sexual reassignment procedures are not complete… for instance, when the top resembles a woman, and the bottom remains a man, then the woman officer will be traumatised,” Riza explained.
The Department of Islamic Affairs in Penang (JAIPP) also gave an overview of the procedures during arrests. Ustaz Khairol Azman revealed that 10 transgenders were arrested this year by JAIPP.
“Our department arrests transgenders based on three criteria of the Syariah Law enacted in 1996. Usually, we act upon receiving complaints, prior observations and investigations.
“Transgenders are arrested if these conditions are fulfilled – that these men are cross-dressing, that they are in a public area, and that they are doing something immoral,” Ustaz Khairol Azman said.
When pressed for a definition of what immoral meant, Ustaz Khairol clarified that carrying condoms was considered as proof. He did mention however, that in Penang, unlike in other states, cross-dressing was not a major offence and that transgenders who are simply going about their daily routine should have nothing to fear.
ASP Riza also gave assured the transgenders that reports made against police officers who ill-treated the community would be taken seriously by the police force.
Both the religious department and police force may only detain their prisoners for up to 24 hours before producing them to the magistrate for further action. The statistics for the number of transgenders detained in 2016 differs from the statistics produced by Ms. Chinta Ardieyana, the president of PACA, an NGO actively involved in transgender rights.
Deputy Enforcer for the Prison Department of Penang, Zulfakri bin Ahmad was also present to brief the audience on the conditions of the Penang Prison. Presently, transgenders are placed separately from the men prisoners.
“This is to ensure the transgenders’ safety,” he said.
This symposium was attended by Penang State Assemblymen YB Teh Yee Cheu and YB Lee Khai Loon, Polis DiRaja Malaysia, Jabatan Hal Ehwal Agama Islam Pulau Pinang, UNAIDS (United Nations), MAC, ATPN and Penang Legal Aid Council (LAC).