KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Several of Malaysia’s most prominent women personalities are planning a city march on September 10 demanding an end to what they call a “rising tide” of toxic, violent and sexist politics in the country.
The walk is scheduled to start from Maju Junction to the Sogo shopping centre 350m away on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in the national capital from 5pm.
“We as the women of Malaysia are dismayed at the erosion of democracy in Malaysia, through acts of violence perpetrated at political events, media or online. As the authorities have failed to address the problem, we as the women of Malaysia are taking a stand against this harmful rise of toxic politics.
“What is more worrying is when a woman’s dignity and well-being can be sacrificed for the sake of politics and propaganda,” Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, representing the women, told a news conference here at the launch of the event called “Women Against Toxic Politics”.
A retired judge and former ambassador, Noor Farida noted that many sexist comments have been issued with impunity in Parliament, often by lawmakers.
She also criticised a recent incident in May that saw prominent film producer Datuk David Teoh of Metrowealth Pictures being slapped by an actor in front of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as an example of the spread of toxicity among Malaysians, claiming it to be the “new norm”.
“This is not civilised behaviour for anyone, much less for Malaysians who are cultured and proud people.
“It appears that now, there is no space that is safe for everyone. The toxic political culture has spread across the country, whenather in public domain, online or through the mainstream media,” Noor Farida said.
Also present at the press conference was Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, wife of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who would also be joining the march next month.
Dr Siti Hasmah noted that “toxic politics” was becoming more frequent and more violent at many events wherever she followed her husband to.
“There has been too much politics in our country, especially remarks made by national leaders, which create a lot of problems for women especially,” she said.
Her daughter Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir was among the number of prominent social activists present at the news conference. Others included lawyer and former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and electoral reform watchdog Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah.
The movement also welcomes other women advocates to join in the walk, regardless of their gender.
There is no registration, but those interested to participate are urged to wear purple on that day. The colour has been previously worn by suffragettes and women’s rights advocates globally.