Speaking at the Dewan Negara, Jamilah was quoted by
Bernama as saying that by working at night, women would not be able to
discharge their conjugal responsibilities.
If this happened, she said, husbands would find an outlet for their urge
through incest, cases of which are increasingly reported these days. Jamilah's
statement has created an uproar among women groups.
It is an illogical proposal because it will never happen. She should not expect
all women to stay at home at night merely because of conjugal rights. For that
matter, why should such meaningful relationships be confined only to the
Surely Jamilah must realise that even if the wives are at home and their
husbands are working, such intimacy can never take place. Is PAS also
suggesting that men should not work at night?
It is incredulous for PAS to link incest to women on night shift. The same
argument has been put up by other PAS leaders who link rape to so-called
They appear to forget that in several highly-publicised rape and murder cases,
the victims were decently dressed, some even wearing telekung. Some of the
victims were minors; surely they cannot be indecently dressed as suggested by
the PAS leaders.
Jamilah's statement is certainly offensive to women. She seems to have reduced
women to sex objects, whose primary function is to satisfy their
No one can question the responsibilities of a wife in discharging her family
and marital duties but Jamilah's suggestion is unacceptable.
PAS has always kept women out of the mainstream. Its women's wing, for example,
plays a relegated role in the party.
It remains to be seen whether the party will actually field women candidates in
the next general election and even if they win, the question is whether the
party is ready to appoint them as state government leaders.
Women reporters, for example, have complained for years how they are segregated
from men when covering the annual PAS general assembly.
PAS should not fault non-Muslims for having a negative perception of the
Islamist party. Neither should its party leaders blame the press for bad
It is the party's own doing.
Although PAS is confident of doing well in the next general election, it is
unlikely to inspire confidence among the majority of non-Muslims, especially
Chinese voters, with its brand of politics.
PAS is mistaken if it assumes that Chinese voters would be convinced of its
purported tolerance by bringing them to visit Buddhist temples and the few pork-selling
restaurants in Kelantan.
The existence of these temples and restaurants are mere tokens because there
are no restrictions in other states under Barisan Nasional.
Liberal Malaysians and non-government organisations, who are unhappy with the
government, must not assume that PAS would be a better alternative because it
will never change its brand of politics.
PAS leaders have consistently maintained that it wants to set up an Islamic
state and no one, including those in the opposition front, should kid
themselves that the religious line is merely for political expediency.
No one should fault Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew for feeling uneasy
over the growing influence of PAS and its impact to the region. As a
far-sighted statesman, Lee obviously sees how a theocratic Malaysia, under the
spectre of PAS, would bring disastrous political effect to Singapore.
The majority of Malay voters – and certainly most Chinese voters – will not
allow PAS to win the next elections.
In assessing the political scenario in Malaysia, many often fail to take into
account the sentiments of Sabah and Sarawak voters, who deliver almost a third
of the seats in Parliament.
PAS is almost non-existent in these two states and its candidates can expect to
lose their deposits in the coming Sarawak elections.
Women, who make up almost half the electorate, will be another group of crucial
voters in the next general election. Efforts have already been made to win the
women's votes, including appointing women to top government posts, the creation
of a Women and Family Development Ministry and Puteri Umno.
It is left to be seen how PAS will woo the women voters.