A group of women activists will gather at the Maju Junction shopping mall at 5pm on Sep 10 and march to the Sogo shopping complex 350 metres away to demand an end to a “rising tide” of toxic, violent and sexist politics in Malaysia.
Prominent participants of the gathering include Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, former Bar Council president Datuk S Ambiga, Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and G25’s Noor Faridah Arifin.
“We as the women of Malaysia are dismayed at the erosion of democracy in Malaysia, through acts of violence perpetrated at political events, media or online. As the authorities have failed to address the problem, we as the women of Malaysia are taking a stand against this harmful rise of toxic politics.
“What is more worrying is when a woman’s dignity and well-being can be sacrificed for the sake of politics and propaganda,” Noor Farida, representing the women, said at a press conference at the launch of the event called ‘Women Against Toxic Politics’.
She said that many sexist comments have been issued with impunity in Parliament, often by lawmakers.
She cited the recent incident where film producer David Teoh was slapped by an actor in front of the prime minister as an example of the spread of toxicity among Malaysians, claiming it to be the “new norm”.
“This is not civilised behaviour for anyone, much less for Malaysians who are cultured and proud people.
“It appears that now, there is no space that is safe for everyone. The toxic political culture has spread across the country, whether in public domain, online or through the mainstream media,” Noor Farida said.
“There has been too much politics in our country, especially remarks made by national leaders, which create a lot of problems for women especially,” Dr Siti Hasmah said.
Maria has urged women to speak out on political and human rights issues affecting the country.
She said now was the time for women to make their voices heard as their exposure to current issues had gained much traction as of late.
“Women account for about 50% of Malaysia’s population and 40%-50% of the total voters in the country.
“So we should have a say on the issues in the country, and it should carry some weight with policymakers,” Maria Chin told FMT.
According to Maria, many of these issues had not been resolved or had been kept under wraps as policymakers continued delaying discussions on the matters.
“Like political violence. It has been going on for a very long time, and nothing is being done to combat the issue.
“Like corruption. Everybody knows it, but what are we doing about it?” Maria said.
“Women in Malaysia as a whole should address this as one voice.
“The rally is an event that is led by women but we are not focusing on just one demographic. It is open for all to come and support, even the men,” she added.
“Around 1,000 rally-goers are expected to turn up at the event and participants are encouraged to don a purple shirt to show support, bringing together posters that show a clear message to protest against the issues,” Ambiga said.