On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

No place for sexist thinking

Abu Bakar's warped logic is that the sexy dresses of the women reporters are to be blamed for the action of the Peeping Tom.  

There were no promises of a thorough investigation to bring the culprit to book and certainly no sympathy nor apology from him but a quick shift of the blame on the reporters doing their work.  

Abu Bakar's statement is bewildering and certainly he owes Penangites, not just the reporters, an apology for his remarks and we hope he will not claim that he has been misquoted, like many often do when they are pinned in a corner.  

It did not matter to him that the technician was supposed to record the proceedings of the council meeting. Nor was Abu Bakar perturbed that the safety and dignity of the reporters had been compromised. 

He seems to be more interested in looking for a scapegoat and has chosen the reporters.  

New Straits Times reporter Melissa Darlyne Chow, who has maintained that she was merely wearing normal office attire, has ended up becoming the issue of the incident now.  

Like the others, she has every reason to be upset with Abu Bakar's sexist remarks. He is no different from the likes of PAS leaders who blame rape victims for their dressing instead of the lust of the predators.  

For simplistic-minded people, it has never occurred to them that even the tudung-clad in rural areas, including grandmothers, have become rape victims. Blaming the way women dress seems to be their argument, no matter how unconvincing it sounds.  

In Abu Bakar's own words – "The issue is the sexy dress of the journalist. If it was not sexy, it would not have happened." Sir, you have got it all wrong.  

The issue is what are you going to do with the Peeping Tom and what follow-up action would you take to make sure this does not happen again.  

The issue also is whether you, on behalf of the council, would have the decency to apologise to the women reporters who have become victims of the technician.  

Instead of spending taxpayers' money and time drawing up dress rules and codes, it might be better for the council to draw up rules to prevent such incidents from happening again.  

State Local Government committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan has taken an impartial position by asking for everyone to keep an open mind as he awaits the council report.  

Dr Teng has said that no one was sure it was done on purpose and whether the CCTV was faulty.  

I am sure the reporters are prepared to accept what Dr Teng has proposed but Abu Bakar's immediate finger-pointing, or rather fault-finding, is perplexing. Abu Bakar ought to be aware that he is not merely serving the council but serving ratepayers as well. Penangites, who are known to be open-minded and progressive, must find his remarks hard to accept.