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Were Baljit's comments sexist or not?

Zikri Kamarulzaman

Published
Modified 11 Oct 2016, 4:40 am

There has been an uproar after Gerakan legal and human rights bureau chief Baljit Singh was reported as mooting that the BN component field “young and sexy women” in the next general election.

Baljit, however, said his remarks were misinterpreted, and pointed out that the original story left out his reference to veteran Gerakan Wanita member Azmar Md Alias.

The question then arises as to whether the remarks are any less sexist although Baljit did not intend it to be such, and Azmar was fine with it?

Can a proposal for better diversity be taken seriously when the criteria cited were "beautiful, sweet, energetic, and sexy" regardless of whether there was a reference to an older woman?

Why was DAP's Dyana Sofya Md Daud only seen as a "young Malay girl"?

Why not state that women with intelligence, charisma and dedication be fielded instead?

Why not focus on the qualities that make an individual, irrespective of gender, a capable representative of the people?

These are questions that should be taken into consideration when judging Baljit's speech at the Gerakan annual general assembly, a transcript of which is included below:

Baljit: Yesterday two, three people said, and the Wanita chief also said it, president please add one, two women as candidates in the next election.

I am expressing your sentiments to the president.

(inaudible)

If you want a seat that 100 percent you will lose, why place a 70-year old candidate.

Why not field a woman who is beautiful, sweet, energetic, sexy and can give it her all to try, like our Kak Azmar.

The thing is this, she might lose, she will lose. But the ripple effect to the other seats.

She definitely won't win, but, but the ripple effect to other seats *inaudible* if we place a Malay candidate, or two Malay candidates, what will be the reaction of the Malays.

(Speaks about how Gerakan doesn't actually have as many members as on record, and how the party will not have many supporters if it doesn't win any seats.)

I can make a lot of jokes, in this seriousness, I don't want to say things too seriously.

I'm subtly trying to say, by filtering it, that women are 40 percent of the voters.

We need Malay and Indian voters. The Chinese people will vote based on logo yet we are not appreciating the Malay and Indian voters.

The truth is that Gerakan must win.

The way to do it is, first: winnable candidate; second: multiracial; third: women; fourth: please put in young blood.

Please put in the youth, not those who are retired or expired stock.

I am not the Wanita chief, I am also not the Youth chief. I am only stating what all of you told me.

Please put in young blood. If you can put in young girls, ‘beliawanis’, some more better. The ripple effect is there.

Let’s be honest about something, Teluk Intan. Yes, president won, I'm happy president won, but look at what the opposition did, they played a *inaudible*... they put a young Malay girl there.

I saw her as a young Malay girl, I didn't see anything else. I didn't check it out, really young Malay girl or not, but I saw that.

The ripple effect... If general election if you put a young Malay girl, Kak Azmar, the ripple effect is there...

Gerakan speaker: Kak Azmar, young?

Baljit: Young enough for me, heart is good enough for me.

*inaudible* Now you put an Indian descendent, a bumiputera descendent, the effect on other seats would be there. The ripple effect are there for other seats we have to look at it.

Even if we lose that one seat, we have to put in a young girl, beliawanis, there. The impact is, yes she might lose, but you are preparing for the second election, the third election.

You are not thinking about this election. You are going to lose, but you are preparing your second liners, third liners.

This is how you work forward.

But I can't go to central working committee like that. I take all your suggestions and give it to central committee, because CC has power and they also have limitations.

All this is in the mind of the president. Please trust me, I have already spoken to him.

It's on his mind but he has a lot of things to balance.

(Baljit ends his speech by saying that Gerakan can win if they stay united and not fight against each other).


ZIKRI KAMARULZAMAN is a member of the Malaysiakini team.