Let’s not trouble Gloria Steinem anymore

When High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir ruled that children born to Malaysian mothers abroad should automatically be conferred citizenship, my heart leapt with joy!

He also reasoned that the word “father” in the Federal Constitution in this instance, must be read to include mothers, as discrimination on the basis of gender is prohibited.

Hallelujah – we have got a judge with a well-formed mind. Isn’t this just a fine example of “justice seen to be done”?

The government’s appeal, days later, wasn’t anticipated, but it didn’t shock, either. Any administration should have been relieved and grateful that the court made the decision to reverse this incongruent practice.

Even the Johor Sultan joined civil societies in questioning the rationale for the appeal.

They are the fairer sex, not the weaker

I couldn’t find any worthwhile reason on why this administration could not agree with the court’s decision. The only silly reason is that they want to prevent our women from being duped by their foreign spouses to have children acquiring dual citizenships. Yes, that’s why I proffered “silly reason”.

In the 50s, when it became the practice among formal gatherings to have the women’s wing established, I believe it was an entirely altruistic act. It was to ease the way for women to play more active/leadership roles in sports, social and political activities.

Back then, it was truly a “man’s world”. The “Women’s Lib Movement”, which started in the United States in the 60s, accelerated the recognition of women for their talents and abilities by correcting social norms, as well as through legislation on gender bias practices.

Gloria Steinem (b 1934) was one of those in the forefront. And by the 80s, the trend hit Malaysia. We had to address womenfolk in the chair as either chairwoman or chairperson, and “Ms” became fashionable so as they could choose not to be identified as Mrs (married) or Miss (unmarried).

After all, Mr doesn’t denote one’s marital status. Manager soon became manageress. Clearly, semantics didn’t bother Sirimavo Bandaranaike as she was never known as “prime ministress”, and neither was Indira Gandhi, nor Margaret Thatcher.

Bra burning was a notable symbolic act of the liberation movement then. Time proved it was a mere fad.

I would wish, in this 21st century, that women’s wings are to be dismantled altogether. Of course, under certain circumstances, a women’s affairs committee can be in place. What started as providing a leg-up for women, actually works in the reverse now; it can be used to sideline their vertical ascension.

Good news! We have just learnt that the government intends to amend the Federal Constitution to correct the situation, hopefully to be framed in no unambiguous terms. Till then, they should withdraw the appeal, just to demonstrate good faith.

Meantime, Akhtar’s turning point decision does provide a real ray of hope for the independence of the judiciary. And equally important, to reassert our sense of decency.

MM2H idiocy

In the case of the Malaysia My Second Home programme (MM2H), the reasons were made known on why the qualifying structure/criteria are to be revised. The home minister cited that many successful applicants didn’t really make Malaysia their second home as they only resided for a few days to meet the conditions.

He added: “The improvements made to the application conditions are to ensure that only those who are of ‘good quality’, genuine, and who can really contribute to the nation’s economy, are allowed to join the programme.”

On the side, I heard that state security was the prime motivation, which accounted for the programme management moving away from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry. The government wants to sieve out unsavoury applicants.

Just off the top of the head. Aren’t those with questionable intents or backgrounds the ones more likely to have the funds to meet our new “improvements”?

Could we be actually turning these crooks into credible applicants? Jho Low types come to mind readily.

I would prefer the “good quality” be tightened through applicants’ steady work/business records, clean tax bills, never investigated for felonies, and other guidelines that endorses good citizenry. The present middle-class income benchmarking is just ideal to fit into our society, both socially and economically. These applicants can get the same weather, street foods, personal safety, and Asian culture anywhere in Southeast Asia, save for Myanmar.

We can clearly see that opting for the second choice (skipping Malaysia) doesn’t require major adjustments.

The MM2H cumulative gross value-added income from inception in 2002, through 2019, is reported as RM11.89 billion. We wonder what could have been the serious drawbacks in achieving the returns to have warranted this dramatic revision.

Could Sarawak, which has its own MM2H, be watching with bemusement (and some sympathy) with what Putrajaya is attempting to do?

This home ministry’s decision has nothing to do with judgment call. It is purely decision-making based on objectives and market conditions. Indeed, the minister’s management-proficiency level must be questioned purely on account of this idiocy.

Postscript

The PAS-sponsored RUU355 – the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) – is being resurrected once again. It seeks to mete out heavier penalties while biding its time in establishing a parallel Syariah/Civil courts system.

All Malaysians are free to choose whether to use Islamic banking or whether to patronise halal establishments.

But this “freedom to choose” vanishes when Syariah conditions “clash” with the Penal Code. I am just imagining how a Muslim and a non-Muslim would be tried if both were literally partners-in-crime.

The Syariah Courts exist to cover matters of Muslim family law and religious observances. It has served us very well. Let’s leave it at that.

Remember the “Allah” issue? Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have been using “Allah” in Bahasa Melayu sermons and literature ever since, and some self-righteous chaps decided to make it an issue.

And a prolonged issue it became. Well, last I heard, nothing has changed.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.