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Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

The Fuss Over Jantan and Betina

I was surprised to learn that several Pakatan MPs took offense at Nazri’s usage of the phrases ‘anak jantan’ and ‘anak betina’ in Parliament today. Curious to see what the fuss was about I chose to do some investigating.
Just to clarify, for animal breeders the terms mean:

  • Anak jantan; jantan = male
  • Anak betina; betina = female

Malays also use the terms the following way in reference to men:

  • Anak jantan = brave; strong man; champion
  • Anak betina = coward; weak; American equivalent of ‘pussy’

Betina on its own is also used to refer to promiscuous women (slut), and also I believe to unmarried women who are pregnant. The reasoning for that is that those women behaved like animals by having illegitimate sex, so they should be labelled as such. I don’t recall jantan being used in a derogatory fashion.

Colloquialisms are context-sensitive. I understood the chosen interpretation that Nazri was using and guessed who he was referring to on my first reading.

I read the Hansard and from page 72 – 94 (21 minutes excluding Saifuddin’s speech) this was the sequence of events:

1.    After some discussion/argument with the Deputy Speaker, the Pakatan Rakyat MPs obtained permission to respond to the issue of ‘misleading the House’ brought up by Abdul Rahman Dahlan (Kota Belud), which he had done in response to Anwar’s accusing the government of using alleged Israeli agent APCO to promote 1Malaysia. Saifuddin Nasution (Machang) was nominated to speak.
2.    Saifuddin Nasution stated that the Minister, Nazri Aziz (Rantau Panjang) had referred to the obsolete Ordinance 69 in discussing the limits of Kelantan’s border)
3.    Deputy Speaker asked the Minister to explain
4.    Hatta Ramli (Kuala Krai) and Mahfuz Omar (Pokok Sena) made some jibes at Nazri, ‘that he need not answer now, he can take a week if he likes’ and ‘has he read the obsolete laws yet?’
5.    Nazri responded that he need not fear, because he was ‘anak jantan’
6.    Hatta Ramli asked him to prove that he was ‘anak jantan’
7.    Nazri continued that what he had stated previously was not intended to mislead the House and he was ready to be investigated because all that was needed is to refer to the Hansard. Because he was anak jantan he had no fear. The anak betina on the other side however, were scared of being investigated.
8.    Lilah Yasin (Jempol) remarked that anak jantan ‘plays in the front, not in the back’
9.    Lo’Lo’ Mohd Ghazali (Titiwangsa) accused Nazri of being sexist and asked him to retract the word betina
10.    Siti Zailah (Rantau Panjang) stated that the word was an insult to women
11.    Arguments erupted between Sivarasa (Subang), Lo’ Lo’, Bung Moktar (Kinabatangan), Haji Ismail (Maran), Nazri and the Deputy Speaker
12.    Nazri explained that jantan and betina were references to the gender of animals. The ones standing in front of him were humans, so how could there be a question that he was referring to the human women as betina. Therefore they had no reason to get angry.
13.    Saifuddin countered that meant Nazri just stated he was the son of an animal
14.    Lo’Lo’ asked him to retract the word regardless of his reasons
15.    Nazri said he meant no insult to the women
16.    Zuraida Kamaruddin (Ampang) asked him to retract the word
17.    Nazri explained the Malay saying goes that ‘anak jantan’ are brave and ‘anak betina’ are cowards
18.    Deputy Speaker stated that Nazri had no ill intention
19.    The discussion went back on topic, regarding whether Kota Belud had misled the House and whether he had the right to use the Standing Orders to make the speech
20.    Lo’Lo’ quoted Standing Order 36(4) that states a Member of the House may not used words that are improper or rude. She asked the Speaker to make a ruling on the phrase ‘anak betina’ because it is an insult to all women even if it was directed at everyone
21.    Deputy Speaker stated that the Minister had explained the context of the terms used was bravery
22.    Pakatan MPs continued to ask for the word to be retracted. Arguments erupted.
23.    Bung Moktar retorted that it was just a Malay saying (peribahasa)
24.    Mahfuz Omar accused Puteri UMNO of not having brains, because they had not objected to the use of the word
25.    Ibrahim Ali (Pasir Mas) requested to debate the Royal Address
26.    His request was ignored and the argument continued for 10 minutes. Some quotes:
a.    Zuraida argued that any Malay that understood the meaning of the word would not use it in that manner, and questioned whether any Malay uses ‘jantan’ or ‘betina’
b.    Deputy Speaker reiterated multiple times that the words were used in a different context than what the protesting MPs was referring to
c.    Mahfuz Omar questioned whether betina was ever analogous to coward
d.    Lo’Lo’ and Zuraida demanded that the word be retracted and its usage in any context be forbidden in the House. They had no objection to anyone using ‘anak jantan’
e.    Fuziah Salleh (Kuantan) stated that within context ‘anak jantan’ meant brave, but ‘anak betina’ was sexist
f.    Zuraida later stated that any statement that refers to gender whether lelaki, perempuan, jantan or betina was itself sexist. She did not change her position on anak jantan
27.    Deputy Speaker told the MPs not to misinterpret the words as their meaning and context had already been explained. The argument ended with Ibrahim Ali giving his speech while Pakatan MPs asked the ‘cowardly Minister’ to retract.

Imagine that, 21 minutes spent on this issue. Now who was Nazri referring to when he said betina?

It is clear that as Saifuddin’s speech was in response to Kota Belud’s request that Anwar be referred to the Special Rights & Privileges Commitee (the Commitee), then ‘anak betina’ used in this context likely refers to Anwar Ibrahim. Jempol’s immediate follow-up statement that anak jantan plays in the front, follows that interpretation as Anwar has been accused of sodomy (main belakang, playing in the back). I myself thought betina was referring to Anwar.

But Pakatan is critical of the government stand that Anwar be referred to the Committee if he does not prove his allegations on APCO. So Nazri’s statement can be interpreted as being directed at the whole bloc, which includes men and women. So he just referred to women as betina!

If only Nazri had said ‘anak betina dari Permatang Pauh’ then there would be no misinterpretation and less time would have been spent on the issue.

I see it as a colloquialism to be treated with care. Jantan and betina are not curse words and only betina has a negative meaning attached to it. I don’t believe it is commonly used either, searching online I only found it used negatively in the context of coward and not slut.

Given the evidence I feel that Pakatan MPs were trying to stir up trouble. If the word was slut; prostitute; whore; instead of betina, then the slur is clear. Today I didn’t see Nazri as being sexist, just crass. I would say he is ambiguously sexist at most.

Compare that with politicians like Bung Moktar Radin (Kinabatangan) who made the infamous ‘women leak once a month’ remark, or Badruddin Amiruldin (formerly Jerai) who made the ‘boleh nampak terowong tak?’ remark, both in 2007.

Sexism in Parliament is an ongoing problem, and it remains as long as we have boors as elected representatives. I hope that when there is a change in government that a code of ethics is drawn up to prevent sexist and racist remarks from being uttered in Parliament.

Sources
Parliament Hansard 22nd March 2010 (link)
Pakatan to campaign against sexist MPs (link)
Shouting match after motion to refer to Anwar (link)
MP: Anak jantan berani tapi anak betina penakut (link)
Badruddin apologises for ‘terowong’ comment (link)
MPs apologise for sexist remarks in Parliament (link)

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Written by ak57

March 24, 2010 at 4:30 am

Stripped and Measured

For the second time in a decade, Anwar Ibrahim now stands accused of sodomy and was brought to a hospital to be probed, measured and examined.

“When I was brought to the hospital, I was stripped naked for tests and had my private parts examined,” the PKR de facto leader told a packed 30-minute press conference at his house hours after he was freed on police bail.

“They also measured the necessary parts,” Anwar quipped.

However, he put his foot down when they came for his blood.

(snip)

Anwar, 61, added that he also refused to have his photographs taken while he was naked in the hospital.

“They’ve already seen all my private parts. Of course, I refused to let them take my photographs. They (the photographs) could end up on YouTube very soon.

“At my age, it’s not a problem but I don’t think it would be complimentary,” quipped Anwar, who was flanked by family members including wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughter, Nurul Izzah.

Nevertheless, he said that the police were exceeding polite and did not touch him at all.

“But I regret to say, that for a person my age with a severe back problem after a major surgery should end up in a cell reserved for the worst criminals in town,” said Anwar.

“And I was asked to sleep on the cold cement floor with nothing. At 1am, my wife brought a towel and that exarcerbated the pain.

“That’s why the moment I got back, my family doctor came to give me a strong dosage of painkillers to my back.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 17th July 2008 (link)

The only nice thing I can find in this story is that the police didn’t force him to give his blood, or take photos of his –ahem ahem– areas. Far too little compared to the tragedy that this story is, the poor man had to sleep on the cold cement floor?

I had no idea his back was so bad that painkillers had to be injected directly into it. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I don’t slap people on the back when I greet them anymore, it would have led to a very awkard situation with the good sir.

You may find the following comic offensive, if you are then I apologise. Sometimes during times of sorrow its good to try and find some humour in the situation.

Written by ak57

July 18, 2008 at 1:19 am

Press Statement by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA; JULY 17, 2008

On Saturday, 12-07-2008, the police came to my house to serve a Section 111 Criminal Procedure Code notice, harassing my family and demanding my presence at the IPK Kuala Lumpur (Federal Territories Police headquarters) at 2pm on Monday, 14-07-2008 despite an earlier agreement with my lawyers for me to come to the IPK on Monday 14-07-2008. On the next day, Sunday, the police also served an ex-parte court order, prohibiting me from physically being within 5 km from the Parliament on Monday 14-07-2008. As you can see, my house and the IPK KL are within 5 km radius from the parliament building. The court order effectively put me under house arrest on Monday and at the same time prevented me from going to the IPK.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ak57

July 17, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Human Rights, Local News, Politics

Tagged with ,

The Government’s Fear of One Man

The Federal Government’s behaviour is just appalling. They lock down KL in anticipation of a fictitious rally – based on two blogs and sms rumours? Here I was thinking that the government view of blogs was that they are non-credible news sources, but suddenly two blogs have the power to lock down KL? The traffic jams were incredible!

Today Anwar was arrested in a heavy-handed fashion that was completely unnecessary. It is just like it was ten years ago. On the night of his arrest in 1998, I was on the phone with a friend when the police trucks drove past my window in a convoy to his house. We had anticipated that his arrest could come at any time, and an hour later I walked to his house to see what happened. A crowd of people was standing around listless, no words being spoken – exactly like how you would imagine a leaderless people.

At this point in time I am uncertain what will happen next. Though Anwar requested that his supporters and the people of this nation remain calm, I do worry that some lower ranking Opposition people will organise demonstrations on their own. It would not be surprising given the culture of ‘rabble rousing’ that was present at PKR’s founding.

Malaysiakini References

Roadblocks set up amid protest fears (link)
Parliament out of bounds to public on Monday (link)
Gridlock in KL as police mount roadblocks (link)
Opposition did plan demo today (link)

Press Statement from Anwar’s Office

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ak57

July 17, 2008 at 12:48 am

Bersih’s Memorandum Delivery

Police today stopped polls reform group Bersih from holding a press conference in front of Istana Negara and in the process arrested PKR’s Information Chief Tian Chua. Also arrested was a PAS member identified as Jalaluddin Abdul Manap.The police had maintained a close watch on the group and moved in as soon as Bersih called for a press conference after submitting their memorandum at about 3pm.Tian Chua was arrested when he tried to prevent the police from confiscating a Bersih banner while Jalaluddin was arrested after he ignored a police warning to stop distributing leaflets calling the EC chairperson ‘a liar’.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 15th February 2008 (link)

Three members from the poll reform group Coalition For Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) were released unconditionally today.

When contacted, their lawyer Amer Hamzah said no reasons were given for their unconditional release.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 18th February 2008 (link)

Bersih went to the palace on 16th February 2008 to hand over a memorandum/protest note (link) to the King, and as expected some token arrests were made. What bothers me is how well everything seemed to progress at first.

  1. First group arrives, police and press present
  2. Second group arrives (including Tian Chua and Irene Fernandez) but police refused to allow them to proceed to the gate where the others were
  3. Police limited 4 Bersih members to p2roceed to the gate to hand over their memorandum
  4. Some Bersih members held up a Bersih banner
  5. Immediately after the memorandum was handed over, Bersih decides to hold a press conference despite warnings by the police not to
  6. Police arrest Tian Chua after he tried to prevent police from confiscating a Bersih banner
  7. Police arrest Jalaluddin Abdul Manap after he refused to stop distributing leaflets

The moment Bersih held up a protest banner, it stopped being a ‘hand over of memorandum’ and became a protest/demonstration. The moment they called for a press conference outside the Istana gate, the message heard by the police was, “Lets have an illegal gathering to answer questions”. It makes me wonder whether Bersih members purposely give the police an excuse to arrest them solely to generate more publicity. They must realise that the police are watching their every move, waiting to find a legal basis for arrest.

Since you can’t hold press conferences wherever you feel like it, what is wrong with walking back to your car/bus stop/LRT and answering questions asked by the reporters hounding you? That’s not an illegal gathering. In fact after being foiled by the police, Bersih held a press conference at PAS headquarters in town, which went perfectly well. I take that as proof that a press conference outside the palace gates was wholly unnecessary.

Why was the banner needed if all that was planned was merely a memorandum handover? Sigh.

It got worse at the Brickfields police station that night. Ginie Lim (part of PKR’s Information Bureau) was arrested for taking photos of the arresting officer. I have heard that it is illegal to take photos inside a police station, for obvious security reasons(sorry I don’t know the relevant Act offhand), so its not unexpected.

However it goes to show the mindset of our people now, where the police are viewed as criminals whose name, badge number and photograph need to be taken and kept on record. So that in the event that something happens to Tian Chua, at least Ginie would have that information. I’m pointing this out because its easy to just label Ginie a ‘crazy rebel’ instead of taking the time to understand.

The problem that I see here is that persons like Tian Chua and Ginie Lim are too important to the inner workings of their party to take part in such events especially when elections are literally 3 weeks away. This is when the Information Bureau should be busiest (unless PKR has a different group of people handling information distribution *shrugs*).

So I sincerely hope they do not participate in such events and leave themselves open to arrest in future. I do not agree with the actions police took, but getting arrested so close to elections really does no good.

The three of them were held in remand until 18th February, whereupon they were released unconditionally. A clear case of abuse of power by the police, that (unsurprisingly) merely got a footnote in the papers. I wonder whether the police will start arresting more Opposition people in the weeks to come 

Written by ak57

February 19, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Tian Chua’s Arrest

What If #2

Torched Car

Written by ak57

December 12, 2007 at 10:16 pm

Posted in AK57 Comics, Human Rights

Tagged with ,

A Quick HINDRAF comic

HINDRAF Rally #1

Still reading through all the news on this event, its been most depressing. Just a quick comic for now, hope the chaps throwing back the tear gas canisters weren’t identified and caught!

Written by ak57

November 26, 2007 at 8:46 am

Posted in AK57 Comics, Human Rights

Tagged with ,