INATTENTIVE wives, horny teenagers, Umno’s upcoming polls, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s bad image, and the Arab siege on Malay culture were some of the issues covered by the traditional Malay-language press from 23 Feb to 1 March 2009.
“Misguided” sexual practices
Moral outrage over “unnatural” sexual practices make for striking headlines. The cover story for Harian Metro‘s 27 Feb edition was Penangan pondan, with the word “pondan” in red.
The exposé revealed that “because they enjoy misdirected love, some men not only melt at the persuasions of transvestites, but are willing to leave their wives and families to be with their same-sex ‘lovers’.”
Harian Metro reporters interviewed Pertubuhan Kebaijkan Sahabat Insan Malaysia (Sidim) chairperson Mohamed Hanafiah Abdul Malek, who said that he had received many complaints from wives whose husbands had left them for transvestites.
Transvestites (Pic by Grace Chin)While being predictably critical about “unnatural couples”, the article made sure that the blame for husbands’ extramarital activities sat squarely on their spouses’ shoulders.
It quoted Mohamed Hanafiah advising wives to “take care of your husbands’ hearts. Pamper them. Because in these cases some husbands say that they fall in with transvestites because they get extra services, and transvestites are more devoted than their own wives.”
In Berita Minggu‘s 1 March edition, the weekend paper ran Padah dedah seks depan kanak-kanak, which argued that “the attitude of some parents, who have sex in front of their four- to seven-year-old children, is one of the factors contributing to the 80% rise in the exposure of sex among children and teenagers.”
It quoted associate professor Dr Mariani Md Nor, a lecturer from Universiti Malaya’s Education Faculty, who said that “children and adolescents who are exposed to sex, especially directly with their own eyes, will learn and adopt certain skills.”
The article seemed to argue that children involved in cases of incest were, at the least, partly at fault. Mariani argued that teenage girls who still wanted to sleep in the same bed as their fathers were actually craving sex.
“This is what we are worried about: that incest will occur. Of course this happens; or if not, they will try to ‘eat’ outside the home,” the academic said.
The report was unable to say where its figures — the four- to seven-year-old bracket, the 80% rise in exposure, the estimated 27% of the adolescent population now engaging in free sex — came from.
On 23 Feb, Datuk Manja Ismail’s Kuasa perwakilan tentukan masa depan Umno occupied the Berita Harian analysis centrespread.
Refreshing readers on the circumstances surrounding the imminent Umno party elections, the Berita Harian group editor argued that the party’s current predicament stemmed from a two-decade-old culture of intense infighting for the party leadership. “The intensity of internal competition has resulted in many factions and money politics, which can weaken and crush the party,” Manja wrote.
“If delegates still have a love for Umno, then they will have no problem choosing candidates that are capable, to ensure the party remains relevant,” the writer said. He expressed confidence that the Umno delegates would reject corruption, and know how to differentiate between money set aside “for kenduri meetings, and that used to buy votes.”
“Only delegates will be able to exact real punishment on those who practise money politics,” Manja continued. To him, the integrity of a party with such wide-reaching national influence as Umno could only be managed by trusting the wisdom of representatives at its general assembly, set to begin on 24 March.
(© Dominik Damaziak / Dreamstime) The writer added that bodies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had better things to do, such as concentrating on the Selangor Menteri Besar (MB)’s alleged misuse of public funds for cows and car maintenance.
Rebuking the MACC
In SPRM, jangan musnahkan impian Pak Lah in Sinar Harian on 1 March, columnist Dr Aisar Yee Abdullah also dwelt on the facts surrounding the MACC’s probe into Selangor MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s affairs.
The writer said that the commission’s latest actions have raised doubts as to how far the MACC is serious in maintaining a good image, as envisioned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. “The public are again saying that whatever the MACC does, whether it is called the MACC or the ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency), it is still the same, still under the fingers of the BN.”
Aisar said that the MACC, in mismanaging its image, had betrayed its mandate to negate the widespread perception that corruption was still rampant in Malaysia. The writer saw our outgoing prime minister as “someone who has big, good intentions, but who didn’t ensure those intentions are manifested in his subordinates … in the end, the failure is on his own shoulders.”
Malaysia menuju “acuan budaya” Barat-Cina-Arab, a letter published in Utusan Malaysia‘s 23 Feb edition, said the majority of Malay leaders no longer cared about the shape of Malaysian society. It said society’s cultural signifiers were being steadily replaced by mores that “are not from the Malay world”.
While making jibes at the fact that PAS maintains a lion dance troupe, the letter writer, Mohd Arif Atan of Kelantan, zeroed in on the RM185.4 million “Arab city” project on Jalan Ampang. “Is it fair towards Malay culture when lifestyles and businesses that feature Arab traditions, culture and cuisine exist in the heart of Kuala Lumpur?” he asked.
Interestingly, the letter was careful to make a distinction between Malay and Arab culture — somewhat of a rarity nowadays. “It is not a few who assume that Arab culture is ‘Islamic culture’. Malay culture, in contrast, is seen as contrary to Islam. Unfortunately, it is none but Malays themselves who have dethroned their own culture!”