After a rather impassioned plea via email from my friend and fellow blogger Susan Loone not too long ago, I’ve now found some time to throw in my support in the issue of women bloggers. [But you know that I’ve always supported women bloggers and women’s rights, right Susan? 🙂 ] Right, moving along…
It all started when the Malaysian tourism minister stated that,
“All bloggers are liars. They cheat people using all kinds of methods. From my understanding, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women.”
Whoa. Talk about ministerial gaffes. Big time.
He said this on 8 March, International Women’s Day no less, apparently in response to Indonesian television journalist Nila Tanzil’s post about her trip to film a travel programme in Malaysia, in which she wrote about her dealings with Malaysian government bureaucracy. The account was, to put it mildly, rather unflattering.
It’s not every day that I come across someone who manages to insult all bloggers, women bloggers in particular, and women in general – all in a single breath. And a government minister too (he could take lessons in sophisticated insults and demagoguery from those in power down south across the Straits of Johor). Read the whole sad story about his remarks here.
Susan has more. Eli Wong also contributes with “IWD: Tengku Adnan whacks women bloggers” (not a good way to go down in posterity celebrating International Women’s Day, sir) and his response to post-remark criticisms here and here (hint: do not include apologies).
Said tourism minister also fulfilled completely the cliche of adding insult to injury, by saying those things on the day right after Nila’s partner was killed in an air crash in Yogyakarta. Since then, Nila has also been suspended from her job at the TV station.
Words can’t even begin to express my disgust at the whole situation.
Except…I’m with you, Nila! You have my support. Likewise, from many others.
Here’s a photo of Nila in slightly happier times, with her film crew in Kuala Lumpur:
Pic from her personal blog, Life is Beautiful
And now that I’ve also mentioned Malaysia’s closest southern neighbour, there is also some news from it. Singapore doesn’t usually have news as err…interesting as its separated one-time kin up north, but Singaporean NGO Think Centre published an editorial to commemorate International Women’s Day. It included a critique of current Singaporean government policies regarding working women and called for, among other things, fairer treatment and equal pay for all women. It also addressed an issue about female foreign domestic workers:
Singapore should recognize domestic work under labour law and provide adequate protection for all domestic workers. There is pay inequality and discrimination based on nationality or country of origin. Under the labour law all workers are to be paid their salary monthly or forthnightly. But there is a loophole as domestic work is not recognized under Singapore’s labour law.
Several days later, Think Centre also released an article responding to a local tabloid’s coverage of a news item excerpted from a UK newspaper – “New Paper: Goes into Full Spin Bashing the Single Mums”.
Ahem. And now back to my (rather over-dramatic and alarmist) blog post title.
I didn’t mean to imply there was a covert war of any kind, but the unfortunate incidents and reports that happened around 8 March onwards seem to be at least thematically linked.
A big difference between Malaysia and Singapore is in the presentation and implementation of ministers’ speeches, policies, press control, etc.
The former’s way of doing things has usually been observed as brash, crass and plain-speaking to the point of crude. When policies get pushed through, they’re usually quite straightforward and blatant (although my Malaysian fellow bloggers can correct me or add more details).
In the latter, government officials can be diplomatic to the point of duplicitous, are generally a lot more sophisticated than Malaysia’s in their speeches and accompanying nuances during the delivery, and have a habit of omitting information until the very implementation of their words as public policy (e.g. regarding the two casinos integrated resorts to be built in Singapore). Simply put, they’re smooooooth…[bastards]. And when policies get pushed through…well, the devil’s in the details, as they say.
So there’s no covert war against women bloggers, as far as I know. But they still have my support nevertheless.