Why women ministers, MPs silent over Anwar Ibrahim’s phone number remark, wonders Bersatu rep

It has been five days since Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a young female student during a public forum that he would have asked for her telephone number if he was younger.

Many lambasted the Malaysian prime minister for his remarks involving the Form 6 student from SMK Tunku Ampuan Durah at the forum last Saturday at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia. There were those who downplayed the incident.

To date, there has not been any apology or clarification from Anwar regarding the matter.

Some also ponder if Anwar’s Cabinet – especially women ministers who are mothers – endorsed his actions by keeping mum.

Bersatu’s Legal and Constitution Bureau deputy chairman, Sasha Lyna Abdul Latiff, said the silence from the government is deafening.

“It is a big concern as they (the government) seem to be hiding behind the veil that what transpired was a joke,” said Sasha.

“Except for one minister (Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek), who said Anwar’s comments were misconstrued, the rest have remained mum. The silence is deafening.”

Sasha said she found it perplexing that while many Pakatan Harapan politicians, including women representatives, had in 2021 stood behind student Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam after she challenged a teacher for making a joke on rape, they do not seem to be speaking up now.

“Why now, when they are the government, none of the women ministers or even women MPs in government are standing up to offer advice to the prime minister by telling him that his actions are wrong,” she asked.

“The fact that they are all hiding behind the clout that it is a joke is quite concerning.”

Sasha said Anwar must set a good example for others.

“He needs to step up. It has been eight months since he became the prime minister … he is no longer in the opposition.

“He (Anwar) cannot act like this because he has always wanted to be prime minister. He cannot say that he is unprepared. As a man in a position of power, he should not be doing things that would make others go: ‘If the prime minister can do that, it’s Okay for me to do the same’.”

Sasha said Anwar must set the record straight as what had transpired during the incident cannot be referred to by others as precedent.


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