ALSO BY

By Ravi Arunasalam

PM Najib was standing up for women

I refer to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's speech regarding the role and status of women in Malaysia and the response by Malaysiakini columnist Mariam MokhtarNajib - a man trying to do a woman's job'.

My premises in challenging the columnist and her warped views are as follows.

- She made her entire view of the PM's speech on his first comment, not on the context of his entire speech. Her column did not cover any other aspects of his speech, proving she had formed her opinion with poor judgement.

- The PM was inspiring women of Malaysia to step up, take up the challenge of not just resorting to being housewives and homebound, but also work towards justifying the demands of equal opportunity.

- That sensible and level headed women who heard the speech by the PM (one of them being my wife) said they did not feel insulted, rather inspired and honoured by the PM's fired-up speech asking women to lift up their game and strive for equality.

Maybe the columnist is pro-opposition, politicising and making hay of every statement a BN leader says just to get leverage.

But there are some matters which are best not politicised.

Today, we need for Malaysians at large to take women more seriously in all arenas.

Asking "why the Women's ministry is being led by a man" and making unsubstantiated remarks that "PM is out of touch with women's issues" is rich coming from pro-opposition supporters, especially if they cared to look at the Pakatan frontline, the majority of which is male.

FMT columnist/Political pundit Selena Tay published the Pakatan "shadow government" frontline (wonder if this was genuine inner sanctum material?) - no prizes for guessing - men outnumbered women 8 to 1.

Mariam Mokhtar also went on to "cheekily" comment that "Currently, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is in charge of this ministry. Is there no capable woman in BN who can take over this post from Sharizat Abdul Jalil who stepped down on April 8?"

Apart from her grammatical mistake, it's interesting to note she had not taken any precautions to counter if someone asks obvious questions:

a. Are there no capable women in the opposition alliance, so much so it's a male-dominated frontline?

b. Is the columnist being sexist thinking only women can run a ministry dedicated to women's affairs?

c. How much more importance can the government of the day bestow on the ministry, by having the PM run and manage the portfolio?

I'd go further to ask both columnists who like taking potshots at the PM with their feeble political remarks, if they think (or more so believe) Anwar Ibrahim will appoint a woman deputy prime minister, if his party on the off-chance, wins the general election?

Inspiring speech

I recognise we are talking about the political left and right here but there are some things we need to not politicise for gaining mileage.

The PM was giving an inspiring speech on how a woman can and must face challenges and excel.

In all fairness, PM is right in the context of his message as to how Malaysia has progressed earlier than countries like Switzerland, a country that did not give women rights to vote till 1971, yet have a style of government that respects rights of majority and minorities alike.

If we want to spin and twist everything a politician says, there would be no end to it. But even a politically biased person needs to at times be above partisan politics, and in this auspicious event, it's best not to say anything if the temptation is to make hay.

We need for our women, the Malaysian women to get into the mindset that they can do anything they set their mind to.

By politicising, people get off the topic and talk and focus is on counter-productive matters. Airplay is not given to stressing the importance of women and the role they play in society.

Thank you for reading my views.