Wan Azizah for Permatang Pauh

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Photograph: The Malaysian Insider

Having her husband thrown in jail and having to raise five children on her own is no easy feat but she did it while leading a political party and servicing her constituency, notes Syerleena Abdul Rashid.

As Malaysians braced for another by-election, we were once again forced to witness the sleazy side of politics; the type that is chock full of character assassination, riddled with sexual innuendos and possess very little substance.

For Malaysians, Permatang Pauh isn’t just the parliamentary seat Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim held on to for over three decades. It represents much more than that.

It represents the birth of the “reformasi” movement and the beginning of Pakatan Rakyat. The powers that be understand the significance of this and will do anything in their power to crush every bit of hope we – who believe in democracy, have.

Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was once again contesting in Permatang Pauh – for the fourth time after 1999, 2004, 2008 and now in 2015. While most of us were not entirely surprised by this, we were relieved when her nomination was announced.

For most Malaysians, Permatang Pauh is seen as the beacon of hope, a symbol of Pakatan Rakyat struggles and a reminder for the entire nation that we, as Malaysians must remain calm in the midst of the calamities we now face as a result of a callous regime.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the BN to begin their sordid onslaught – with objectives aimed to discredit and dehumanise Dr Wan Azizah.

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Their tactic of using female aggressors who have very little self-respect is nothing more than evidence of how deeply ingrained internalised sexist beliefs have been accepted by our society. Such beliefs are created by men who could care less about social justice and upholding human rights.

In the run up to polling day, the regime’s machinery spewed a variety of predictable verbal attacks.

Chew Mei Fun, who contested Kajang and lost to Kak Wan, made several disparaging comments such as using the terms “recycled candidate” and “housewife”.

Chew only succeeded in coming off looking more like a sore loser rather than a politician who was sincerely concerned with the welfare of those who reside in Permatang Pauh.

Her remarks contradicted the position she has been entrusted to oversee – deputy women, family and community minister – and this was something that did not sit well with Malaysian women. Of course, Chew wasn’t the only one. Joining in this slanderous tirade were MCA’s Tan Cheng Liang, Umno’s Jahara Hamid and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Where were these women when the mad muftis so openly endorse marital rape, child marriages and would rather have women take on slave-like submissive roles? Where were these women when the bigots were hell-bent on punishing a woman who appeared on a video that raised the necessity of implementing hudud while the rest of the country was in dire straits?

Wan Azizah once said, “I am coming out to do my bid to help in the democracy and the future of our country,” and urged that, as Malaysians, we must unite to continue the struggle to uphold democracy. She has lived a life full of persecution.

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Having her husband thrown in jail for crimes he did not commit and having to raise five children on her own is no easy feat but she did it while leading a political party and servicing her constituency. Unlike those who attack her, she has shown nothing but grace, fortitude and eloquence. Her calmness is a trait not many of our politicians have and this is a sign of a true leader – someone we can depend on.

Elections bring out the best and worst in us: Malaysians see promises made, babies kissed and money thrown.

Malaysia has no shortage of politicians who pay mere lip service but do not carry out their duties to serve the people who voted them into power in the first place. All we can do is remember these four words: “people are not fools!” and that is why we need to vote for those who can do a better job than those endorsed by a regime that has forgotten about the rakyat.

Source: themalaysianinsider.com

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