It is time for Malaysian politics to get out of the gutter, stop campaigns to slander personal reputations and focus on the important issues facing Malaysia today.
A video that was allegedly filmed on 21 February 2011, which shows a man, allegedly an opposition politician, having sex with a "foreign prostitute", is the latest in a series of sordid debacles to which Malaysian voters have sadly been exposed.
The timing of the release of the tape coupled with the intense politicisation surrounding the case raises some serious concerns about the state of Malaysian politics.
Seeking to undermine the credibility of individuals for political gain in this way is insulting and condescending to Malaysians.
The exposing of such a video at such a time insults Malaysian voters' intelligence as it is clearly intended to divert attention away from the critical issues facing this country.
The critical issues being the widespread corruption, abuse of power, financial mismanagement, wastage of resources and empty rhetoric by those in power.
This farcical situation also raises the concern of what seems to be becoming a culture of spying in this country. Although it must be said that the authenticity of the most recent video is suspect, it is deeply unfortunate that such "spy tapes" are lapped up by journalists.
Even in past cases in recent years in which authentic photos or videos of politicians have surfaced, it is the role of the media to examine the motives behind such exposure and not play into the hands of those with power and money.
A further issue of significant concern is the way in which the woman depicted in the video has been treated.
The loaded terms "prostitute" of "foreign" or "Chinese" appearance in news reports are clearly used to demonise the woman, and by extension, further tarnish the man in the video.
The particular opposition leader who is the focus of this latest furore has had more than his fair share of attacks on his character.
If we are going to hold politicians to a higher moral standard, then this must extend beyond bedroom practices to democratic and ethical values and practices, and these standards must be applied consistently across the board.
The dubious circumstances surrounding this latest episode only serves to alienate the electorate and erode confidence in our political and democratic processes, especially during a time when full, clear and impartial information about the policies and promises of political parties is needed so that voters can make informed choices at the ballot box.
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) comprises:
- Women's Aid Organisation (WAO)
- All Women's Action Society (AWAM)
- Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Perak Women for Women Society
- Sabah Women's Action Resource Group (SAWO)