Written by: Mariam Mokhtar
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.
[Source: Free Malaysia Today. Originally titled Malay Girls are Easy Targets.]