PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim should publicly apologise for allegedly making a sexist comment to a Form Six student who participated in a public forum, says a Bersatu leader.
Sasha Lyna Abdul Latiff, the deputy chairman of the party’s legal and constitution bureau, made the call following Anwar’s response to questions posed by a female student in a town hall session at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim) in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, yesterday.
During the forum, Anwar was asked by the student how Malaysia can become a first-class nation in the future, and what the government and youths can do towards realising this ideal.
She also asked about Putrajaya’s strategy in dealing with the declining value of the ringgit.
In response, Anwar praised how eloquently the student delivered her question and said: “If I was young, I would have asked (for your) phone number”.
The forum’s moderator then responded by saying: “If Dato’ Seri (Anwar) has gotten the number, please pass it to me.”
Anwar then replied by saying that he was merely joking, and that his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, always watched live streams of his events.
Sasha said that the entire episode was a “stunning display of discriminatory and sexist language”. She said such comments are unacceptable under any circumstances, especially at a public forum.
“What sort of example is the country’s prime minister setting for the youth of the nation? That it is fine to ignore the intelligence and capacity of women, and instead, treat them as an object of flirtation,” Sasha said in a statement.
“The same question would not have been asked if the question was posed by a boy or a man. It is never alright for a leader, and the leader of a nation at that, to utter such words to a student in the guise of being humorous.
“This is a man fond of emphasising ‘civilised discourse’ at every forum and pulpit. But civilised discourse seems to have deserted him on this occasion.”
Sasha added that Anwar, who has championed “Reformasi” for decades, should commit to fostering a country that is free from sexism and prejudice.
“Women and girls should be able to participate in public forums and workplaces without fear of sexism rearing its ugly head,” she said.
“We hope that the women leaders in Pakatan Harapan and the unity government do not keep silent over this manifest example of sexism by their own leader. They must speak up for girls and women or be branded hypocrites.”