Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Reason Number 812 Why Malaysia Sucks

As per this article on the BBC:

"When customers come to pay at the new Tesco supermarket in Kota Bharu they have to queue separately - one till for men, another for women.

It is one of the regulations to ensure the sexes are kept apart in Kelantan - the only state in Malaysia run by the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS)."

What century are we living in again?


Caputchin Monk said...

A century where female and male athletes still compete separately and unisex toilet is still something unimaginable ?

Paradox !

Tommy said...

Fair point. But gender segregated sports and restrooms is a far cry from not even allowing men and women to interact in public.

In Iran, men aren't even allowed to attend womens soccer matches!

Stardust said...

tommy, that's what muslim schools are trying to demand here in Chicagoland...men and boys banned from their daughter's soccer matches even when playing against public or other parochial schools. So far, they haven't gotten their way, but are making a stink about it.

Jonathan said...

What more can you say than, "Wow." I can't imagine living somewhere like that and sometimes it is shocking to think that there are places really like this.


karat said...

I've read all your 'Malaysia Sucks' posts. Interesting. There are some I agree with and some I don't. But that separate queuing thing - that only happens in Kelantan. The rest of the country isn't like that. Even if there's no such regulation, the people in Kelantan themselves separate by gender in public places, so I've been told by my friends who live there. If they're happy with it, who are we to criticize?

Tommy said...

Hi Karat,

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Yes, the segregation is only in Kelantan, but if the Islamist party in power there were to gain power elsewhere in Malaysia, they would doubtless try to impose it in those states as well.

If people want to voluntarily segregate themselves, then that is their business. But the problem is when it becomes mandated either by statutory law or simply by religiously motivated social conformity. It violates the freedom of association that all people should have.

That is one of my biggest problems, as you can probably tell, with fundamentalist Islam. It creates a climate where men and women cannot freely associate in public because it assumes that grown men and women cannot control their hormones. Everything is assumed to have a sexual subtext to it. It's pathetic really, and in these modern times there really is no place for it anymore.

On several occasions I have had a female friend from Indonesia visit us in my home, and on a number of those visits we are alone together watching tv while my wife is at work, and amazingly, nothing happens between us! But in a world run by the puritanical nutcases in Kelantan, the sharia police would be busting down my door on the odd chance that there might be some adulterous sex taking place in my basement.

karat said...

Yes I understand what you're trying to say. From another view favored by the Kelantanese though, such a law justifies their practice. Anywhere else, and everyone would freak out. =) There has never been absolute freedom in this country and we accept that for now.

Your last paragraph is true, and that applies to the whole country. We Muslims here have a thing for catching unmarried adult Muslim couples in closed rooms.

I actually dreaded coming home because Kedah - where I live - is under PAS now. But now I have great expectations for the new Kedah state administration because Kelantan, for all its extremities, has managed to prosper without the government's help for so long. My Chinese neighbor who'd lived there has only good things to say about Kelantan. If non-Muslims can feel that way about a supposedly fanatical Islamic state, then surely they're doing something right over there.

Tommy said...

Thanks for your reply Karat. I appreciate your taking the time to share your point of view with me.

To be honest, I was hoping to hear from many Malysians. However, while my sitemeter indicates at least a couple of hundred hits from Malaysia over the past few months, the comments have been rather sparse.

I acknowledge that in some places religious fundamentalist parties have a strong appeal because sadly enough they are the only ones who fill a vacuum left by corrupt or incompetent secular governments. People are willing to put up with, if not outright approve of, curtailments of individual liberties if they perceive that the streets are safer, basic social services are being provided, et cetera.

I just worry that we are living in an era where a growing number of people are embracing religious fundamentalist ideologies that will increasingly put them at odds with their neighbors and destroy the idea of a pluralistic and tolerant democratic society that I believe, for all of its imperfections, is the best social arrangement of all.

Thanks again for your comments and I hope you will continue to share your insights here.

Peace and human solidarity,


karat said...

Honestly, I found this blog while searching for rants about the Malaysian postal service. But that's in a different category altogether. =)

I chose to comment because I thought this particular entry of yours was a bit misleading. If people don't do their research, they're going to think that Kelantan represents the whole of Malaysia, when the truth is that the rest of us in 12 other states and 3 federal territories aren't too crazy to queue by gender.

That being said, we do have this tendency to stick to basic religious and Eastern values, which sometimes overlap with narrow-mindedness. What is acceptable in the U.S. may not necessarily be so here and vice versa.

Don't worry, we do thrive for democracy and universal love in our own way. Shame that the fundamentalists are giving the religion and the country a bad name.