MPs slam Nurulhidayah’s ‘insulting’ remarks on women leaders

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Brickbats from the public for Nurulhidayah’s belittling the capabilities of women to be leaders.

Lawmakers have spoken up against the sentiment that women are not born to be leaders, which was the view of Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s eldest daughter Nurulhidayah in an interview recently.

Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh said “no right-thinking woman” would make such remarks.

“No empowering mother would tell their girls that girls are not born to be leaders.

“Is this the mindset of the upbringing in a top Umno family? We are not in good hands when these people are in leadership.

“Creating lifelong dependency and wrong, blatantly unfair policies affecting women, for example, the ability to pass on citizenship to children born abroad,” Yeoh told Malaysiakini today.

Describing Nurulhidayah’s remarks as “disgusting, degrading and pervasive”, the former women, family and community development deputy minister said she is often bewildered when she looks at the unfair policies affecting women despite it being 2022.

“But when I hear for myself how the daughter of the Umno president talks – I get it now,” she added.

Yeoh also urged Wanita Umno to correct this attitude and for the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun along with her deputy Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff to speak up on this issue.

Similarly, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said Nurulhidayah’s statement was an “insult to women and to mankind”.

Fuziah said Islam clearly states that every human being is a leader.

“Khalilah fil Ard. This means all are God’s representatives on this earth and all of us are leaders.

“We are all equal in the eyes of Allah. What differentiates us is our taqwa or piety,” she explained.

Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil called Nurulhidayah’s remarks ludicrous, “ignorant of history” and all the work that has been done by women leaders in Malaysia.

“I’d like to see her try and tell this to (former minister) Rafidah Aziz, (Universiti Malaya pro-chancellor) Aishah Ong, (Pure Life Society president) A Mangalam and so many other women leaders who blazed their own trail in this country,” he said to Malaysiakini.

Several MPs also responded to Nurulhidayah’s comments via social media, including Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching.

In a TikTok video, Teo pointed out that she became an MP when she was 27 years old, while Yeoh was the first woman speaker of the Selangor state assembly at the age of 34.

There is also Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin, she said, who was appointed as the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister under the Pakatan Harapan administration at 35.

“(That is) a portfolio that is now handled by three different ministers.

“Don’t ever believe that women are not born to be a leader,” Teo added.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman spoke up on the matter through Twitter, saying he does not understand why Nurulhidayah belittled the capabilities of women to be leaders.

“It is already 2022. Such outdated and insensitive thinking should be thrown far, far away,” he tweeted.

Nurulhidayah made the remarks in an interview with the “Politically Frank” programme under Sinar Daily, the English video arm of Malay newspaper Sinar Harian, when she was asked about her take on women’s rights and female representation in politics.

“Women’s right in politics? Women are not born to be leaders tau (you know)? So…yea, women are not born to be leaders.

Aizuddin Saad/NST

“A man is born to be a leader. So, I think for human rights, for women’s rights, I think semua patut ada (all should have) the right. Because we are all human,” she said.

Following brickbats from the public, she later posted on Instagram a quote from the Quran and clarified her remarks.

She said there is no issue for women to be “part of the leadership team” such as becoming an elected representative or a business owner.

“What I mean was the highest leadership such as the prime minister, menteri besar, chief minister and those of equal rank.

“However high (a woman climbs) or however great a woman is, it is women who will always be the supporter for the success and weakness of those called men.

“What are men without women? That is what I meant,” she added.

In another Instagram post, she said she had given her “frank reaction” when asked about gender equality and denied that she was “ustazah-level” religious.

Meanwhile, on the relationship between her family and that of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Nurulhidayah revealed that their ties had existed for a long time.

She described Anwar as a “sweet talker” who had strong family values – the latter trait being one that she admires.

When questioned on who should be the next prime minister, Nurulhidayah was coy.

“The leader of the (winning) party should be the prime minister. For me, now, we don’t know yet. So, we should wait until the next general election,” she said.