Women fooled by empty promises

THERE is something about campaign promises that is pleasantly stupefying. They numb the brain and lull the senses so we take them at face value and allow ourselves the high of actually believing them. 

So it was with last week’s many promises of a glorious future, where dinosaurs will be remade into lean, mean and youthful fighting machines with only the rakyat in mind.

Unfortunately, there are some of us who are a bit OCD about words and impulsively cast a sceptical eye on every pronouncement particularly those that elicit loud outbursts of cheering.

In fact the louder the cheer, the bigger the scepticism even though I do understand how everyone gets carried away with the charged atmosphere. It brings tears to your eyes.

For instance, some women were in paroxysm of gratitude when it was announced the number of women senators would be increased to 30%. 

As everyone gazed adoringly at their Dear Leader, nobody noticed this seemingly delicious little morsel means virtually nothing when the real power is in the Dewan Rakyat, not the Dewan Negara.

Those whose memory hasn’t been clouded yet by pre-election pyrotechnics may recall that way back in 2005, women senators had raised objections to the amendments to the Federal Territory Muslim Family Laws – that basically took away a lot of rights from women and enhanced men’s – only to be ‘whipped’ into subservience with the promise the amendments would be re-examined after the law is passed. 

Ten years on, the revised law has still to be re-tabled at Parliament.

Basically, if a law passes Parliament because the current government wants it to, there is bug-all the Senate can do to oppose it. Having more women senators may sound great but in substance it means nothing.

There was also a passing reference to fielding more women in the next elections. Which of course is what women’s groups have been demanding for years. But how much is “more”? And what is the intention because “fielding” is not the same as “electing”.

If it’s just to curry favour with women pre-GE14, then forget it. In the last elections, women candidates were either fielded against other women, thus increasing the number of women parliamentarians by zero, or against giants where they had no hope of winning. 

The number of women in Parliament is a pathetic 10%, among the lowest in the world. To achieve 30% women MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, the number of women candidates has to be more than 30% in the general elections. 

If the intention is sincere, then they should be fielded in constituencies where they have a good chance of winning.

Also did you notice they said nothing about Cabinet posts? 

That’s where the real power is. There too we have a pathetic three women Ministers holding portfolios that are hardly the centres of power. 

Why did no woman ask they be given real Ministries as a condition of their support? Why can’t they hold portfolios like Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs, Education, Health or Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government? 

Surely they can’t do any worse than those guys. 

So ladies, I’m sorry but you’ve been had. 

Despite all the tears, the promises of never letting him walk alone, the mass worship, I’m afraid you’re still not going to get anything in the end. 

Why should anyone be surprised? You demand things at your regular assemblies, you get promises and when they win, you forget to ask when the promises will be fulfilled.  

When other women speak the truth, you attack them instead. You applaud men who speak rubbish while disparaging women who know better than them what things cost every day. 

You brook no criticism of your Dear Leader but is that because you really believe he is flawless or out of fear? Not the fear for your life perhaps but fear of the gravy train running out. 

Around the world women are not taking any more rubbish from men, especially men in power. 

They are demanding accountability for the years, nay centuries, of discrimination they have suffered, all the humiliations, the suppression of their rights, their voice, their bodily integrity. 

They are saying enough is enough, they no longer want to be treated as objects, property or playthings. Yet did you talk about any of these? 

If we asked each one of you, all of you would have a #Metoo story to tell because every woman does. 

But for a few scraps of privilege, you are obediently staying silent. And you actually believe they respect you?

You say you want to be the party of the future. What sort of future do you imagine it will be when all they want is the status quo? – December 12, 2017.

* Marina Mahathir reads The Malaysian Insight

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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