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Tomboys and street signs

DURING the week of 25 to 31 Oct, the fatwa on tomboys, the proposal to put up multilingual street signs in Georgetown, and the need for the Barisan Nasional (BN) to change its focus were highlighted in the Malay dailies.

On 25 Oct, Berita Harian reported the imam of the National Mosque, Tan Sri Syaikh Ismail Muhammad, as saying that the government should look into enacting laws to punish Muslims involved in tomboyish behaviour.

Syaikh Ismail, in the article titled Perlakuan pengkid wajar kena hukuman, said tomboys defy Islamic values, which forbid its followers to change their nature and behaviour. He also charged that tomboys were involved in homosexual behaviour.

He said this in light of the National Fatwa Council’s announcement on 24 Oct on banning tomboys or women who dress and behave like men.

On 31 Oct, Malaysian Muslim Consumer advisor Ahmad Zaki Ismail wrote a feature in Utusan Malaysia titled Menangani “gender jadian“, explaining why such a ban would be ideal to curb social problems in Malaysia.

He labelled homosexuals as “criminals” to society and religion, and said serious focus should be given to curbing such trends. He also said society needs to stop tolerating these groups in the name of individual rights. Lastly, he urged for immediate action to be taken to contain the “cancer” before it is too late.

Street signs

The Penang state government made headlines on 24 Oct when it proposed installing multilingual street signs in some parts of Georgetown after it was picked as a World Heritage site. However, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the signs will only be installed in certain streets below existing street signs in Bahasa Malaysia.

On 26 Oct, Utusan Malaysia ­in its news report Tapak warisan hanya guna Bahasa Malaysia showcased several negative reactions to the proposal.

The article pointed out that historians and politicians were of the opinion that the function of Malay as the national language and in official undertakings cannot be replaced because it is embedded in the Federal Constitution.

Pasir Salak Member of Parliament Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman demanded the Federal Government take stiff action against the Penang state government.

Meanwhile, president of Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) Datuk Ibrahim Ali said that Penang government should realise that there is a limit to the freedom of using other languages granted to every citizen in this country.

On 28 Oct, an article in Berita Harian titled Nama jalan kena ikut Akta Bahasa reported Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim as saying that public signages like street signs should be produced in line with the National Language Act. He said: “If it is done for the purpose international interest, I think it is sufficient to use Malay and English for signboards.”

Historian Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim said in the same article that there is no reason to use other languages for public signages because the Malay language can be understood by all.

On 31 Oct, Utusan Malaysia reported Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Deputy Director Kamarul Zaman Shaharudin as saying all groups should respect the Federal Constitution, including the position of the Malay language as the national language.

He said that street signs should use the Malay language, but Jawi would also be acceptable.

BN and racial equality

On 25 Oct, Berita Harian in an editorial titled Keterbukaan ciri penting pemimpin pelbagai kaum advised BN leaders to leave behind race-based politics and widen its focus on all races.

The article praised Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak for his comment on 23 Oct that Umno needs to go beyond race-based politics to ensure its relevance and shore up its power base.

The editorial also said besides Umno, the MCA and MIC were also seen as championing their respective races’ interests. It also advised Umno to change and not position itself in the interest of its own race only.

On the same day, Utusan Malaysia reported Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique as saying that BN needs to opt for racial equality if it wants to win back the six parliamentary seats in Kuala Lumpur from the opposition.

In the report, Kesamarataan kaum jika mahu menang pilihanraya, Zulhasnan said campaigning strategies needed to be revamped so that the coalition could appeal to young voters.

“If Umno and BN want to win in the next general election, we need multiracial support; we can’t survive alone,” he said during the Setiawangsa Umno division meeting.

Selangor bans Jom Heboh

On 25 Oct, Sinar Harian reported the Selangor government’s move to ban TV3’s Jom Heboh concert.

The chairperson of the Islamic affairs, Malay customs, infrastructure and public amenities committee, Datuk Dr Hassan Mohamed Ali, said the concert was banned due to the station’s unprofessional conduct and bias when reporting on the Pakatan Rakyat government.

In the article, Tiada konsert Jom Heboh di Selangor: Hassan, he said the station’s representative who came to meet him also failed to answer his questions on the benefits of the concert.

“The decision would stay as long as the unfair coverage of the state government [by the station] continues,” he said.

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