Hadi’s views on women and job position double breach of the 1999 Barisan Alternative common manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” and the latest amendment to the Malaysian Constitution outlawing discrimination on grounds of gender
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Although Acting Pas President and Terengganu Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang blamed the media for not giving proper coverage on his statement regarding responsibilities that could be undertaken by women, he defended his view that women are not suited to undertake certain jobs such as becoming Wildlife Department director, navy commander, Defence Minister or judges hearing cases involving serious crime as it is not part of their “women’s instinct”.
He said that women by nature had to go through menstruation cycles and pregnancies, which would affect their ability to withstand pressures, making their holding certain judicial and administrative positions unsuitable as some jobs posed a threat to them while others were just too stressful.
Hadi’s view have elicited widespread criticism, including from the Bar Council President, Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, who described it as “shocking and sad”, “putting the clock back” and called for Hadi to be “sensitized on gender issues of the modern era”. He said: "Such a narrow view has disrespectfully ignored centuries of contributions made by women to all societies.”
I endorse Kuthubul’s view that women both in Malaysia and abroad had excelled in the judiciary, public administration, sciences and other fields of work.
Hadi’s view on women and job position is a breach of the 1999 Barisan Alternative common manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” – for how can there be a Just Malaysia if Malaysian women who already comprise the majority in the public universities are to be treated so unjustly.
It also raises serious question about the PAS’ stand on the recent constitutional amendment barring discrimination on grounds of gender which was enacted after the 1999 general election.
It is this line of Islamic thinking which had refused to accept women as heads of state, whether the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto or the current Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Hadi’s retrogressive view on the role of women in Malaysian society reminds me of the six questions I posed at the PAS Melaka forum in June 2000, which I had said would be asked not only by the Barisan Nasional but by all Malaysians, as to whether PAS and its Islamic State concept are compatible with (i) democracy (ii) pluralism (iii) human rights; (iv) cultural diversity; (v) women’s rights and (vi) development and modernity.
Hadi has given an answer on the fifth point which demonstrates an incompatibility with women’s rights, as well as being both against the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” and the latest amendment to the Malaysian Constitution outlawing discrimination against Malaysian citizens on grounds of gender.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman