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Tend your own backyard first, Najib

 | July 3, 2012

It is no secret that the LGBT communities have become the 'hunted' ones in Malaysia, with the police and religious authorities hounding them like poachers.


Should Malaysians feel offended that their leader Najib Tun Razak is more concerned over American president Barack Obama’s support for same sex marriages than worrying about his MPs back home who are corrupted, womanisers and who threaten the lives of the rakyat?

Yes, the people of this country have every right to be livid with their sixth prime minister for getting his priorties wrong.

Instead of having sleepless nights because of Obama’s humility and respect for the marginalised communities, Najib should be very troubled by the antics of his fellow ministers and parliamentarians who are in fact “thugs” in guise.

Najib relayed his disappointment with Obama through a secretary, during his visit to the US recently.

The premier’s unhappiness on the “Obama and same-sex issue” was revealed through a written reply from the Foreign Ministry to Pasir Puteh MP (PAS) Muhammad Husain.

Muhammad had asked Foreign Minister Anifah Aman if the Barisan Nasional government would state an official objection to the American president’s support for same-sex marriage.

“In regard to Obama’s statement supporting marriage of the LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender) group, it is a personal opinion and only applies to the US,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on June 27.

The ministry said that in principle, Malaysia does not intrude upon another country’s domestic issues as the values of foreigners differ from those of Malaysia.

“Therefore, there is no need for us to object to the stand of the US president that was made based on the context of his country’s open social issues.”

Why then is Najib so disillusioned with Obama’s support for the LGBT communities?

It is puzzling that Najib is trying to teach Obama to respect principles of religious laws, using sensitivity of “followers of the faith”, that is, Muslims as the excuse.

The ministry said the government’s stand on the LGBT is very clear, where Malaysia “will not compromise or work together with any parties in or outside of the country to recognise the LGBT communities and their rights”.

Stay focused, Najib

There is no reason for Najib to meddle in the affairs of another nation when the issue concerns equality for all, something which the BN government does not subscribe to.

The very “principles of religious laws” that Najib wants Obama to adhere to are trampled upon back in Malaysia and yet our leader has the cheek to “educate” his counterpart who knows better than to punish the LGBT communities for no fault of theirs.

Najib would be better off tackling the many problems back home instead of playing smart alec and making a fool of himself and the nation.

The fact that Malaysia is intolerant towards its LGBT communities was never more apparent after the police and government in November last year banned all events organised by Seksualiti Merdeka, an annual sexuality rights festival held in Kuala Lumpur.

It is no secret that the LGBT communities have become the “hunted” ones in Malaysia, with the police and religious authorities hounding them like poachers.

Human rights not BN’s agenda

Outlawing Seksualiti Merdeka and demanding that Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga’s citizenship be revoked just because she agreed to officiate at the Seksualiti Merdeka programme are among the many instances the government has displayed its lack of compassion for the country’s LGBT communities.

The ban on Seksualiti Merdeka is now eight-months-old but not a day passes by when the BN government or its honchos do not associate Ambiga with the LGBT group, claiming the former Malaysian Bar president has a hidden interest in wanting to further the LGBT cause.

Neither is Ambiga involved in a move to advance the LGBT agenda nor is she out to dethrone the government via the marginalised communities. If there is a cause that this human rights advocate wants to champion, it is that of making sure no Malaysian is discriminated based on their gender or sexuality.

But then human rights have never been on the agenda of the BN, what more a priority. To therefore preach to another nation that it is “wrong” to respect the existence of LGBT communities stinks of hypocrisy.

Regardless of whether Obama has declared support towards the LGBT communities to make an impact with the American voters and gain political mileage or he sincerely respects the fundamental rights of every living being, Najib has no business teaching his more conscientious and humane “colleague” how to call the shots.

It would be better for Najib to instead focus his attention on the likes of Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz who on June 26 called for Ambiga to be hanged for being “treasonous” by organising the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

“Shouldn’t we also hanged Ambiga for treason towards the Agong? Traitors should be punished as harshly as possible,” Mohamad had said in Parliament.

The Umno MP Mohamed, however, was quick to dismiss claims that he was being racist and sexist for attacking a non-Malay and a woman at that. Two days later, he retracted his statement after it went to earn him the wrath of opposition leaders while the BN leadership distanced itself from Mohamad on the matter.

But the damage has been done, a harm much severe in nature and that foretells the trouble the nation is heeding towards.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.


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