Twenty years later, Mahathir presses for reforms but not the LGBT way

2786

By Kazi Mahmood

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has a knack of going against his own daughter’s idealism.

This time around, he is totally opposed to Marina Mahathir’s expectations on the LGBT community in Malaysia.

And rightly so, would say non-liberal Malaysians who do not support any form of rights for the LGBT community in the majority Muslim nation.

In recent weeks, Ministers and political figures from the Pakatan Harapan gave faint hopes to the community, with public declarations on their rights.

Charles Santiago, an MP from the PH coalition is campaigning for the repeal of the laws he says are against that community.

He expressed himself on Twitter: We need to stop targeting the LGBT community. We need to stop invading their privacy. We need to stop abusing them. We need to grow up as a society and learn to embrace diversity.

He drew mixed responses from Malaysians, who are however sorely divided between the liberal and non-liberal. The Malays, of course, form a larger number among the non-liberal who do not want the LGBT to be legally recognised in Malaysia.

Nevertheless, twenty years later, that is after he accused Anwar Ibrahim – his then leftenant in the Umno – of sodomy, Mahathir is back on the same trail.

No one knows whether the coincidence of the dramatic turn of event twenty years ago influenced the old man, but here he goes again:
Malaysia cannot accept same-sex marriage, he said.

The same Dr Mahathir showed empathy towards two Malay lesbians who were caught in the sexual act in a car in the ‘Islamist’ run state of Terengganu.

They were publicly caned and this caused an uproar in some quarters in Malaysia and led Dr Mahathir, Anwar and a whole lot of people condemning the act.

Dr Mahathir did not specifically say he condemned the caning but worded his comments in such a way as to suggest he was against the public caning.

The context has changed, but the agenda remains the same. In 1998, Anwar was fired from his post as deputy-PM and minister of finance. On September 20th he was brutally arrested by armed, masked men who barged into his house while he was hosting a press conference.

Later he was beaten in jail, but he was then accused of sodomy. A case that has probably remained rooted in the memory of this father of 6, who says he is happily married to the current Malaysian deputy PM Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

This time around, Anwar’s reformasi movement has won the elections and is in power, albeit with Dr Mahathir as PM.

There are no sodomy accusations against Anwar. But many among the Malay community in particular – mainly those supporting Dr Mahathir against Anwar – do not want a ‘gay’ or sodomist PM.

They talk about it openly in public forums online, on the social media, castigating Anwar as unfit to be PM.

Many are saying they do not want their children or grandchildren to be ruled by a ‘sodomist’.

The anomaly in Malaysia is that many so-called liberal thinking folks are also against a ‘gay’ PM, or they are simply caught in the white noise made by Anwar’s opponents?

Dr Mahathir made the statement against the LGBT on the basis that Malaysia human rights version does not corroborate with the Western version.

And his statement will get him more support among the Malays-non-liberal group in the country. They are supposed to be the majority.

But what about the transition – that is on the cards – with Dr Mahathir setting the stage for Anwar to be the next PM?

Whatever it is, Anwar made it clear enough in a BFM interview that he was not gay. He made it known that the episode following the 1998 arrest and the subsequent court trial was a ploy by the Umno.

He said it was character assassination by the party that is trying to poke enough fire between him and Dr Mahathir ahead of the Port Dickson by-election.

Looking visibly distressed by the accusations, Anwar seems to hesitate before replying with conjuncture that he was not gay.

However, it is Anwar’s way of replying tricky questions, if you have followed him from the start of his ministerial career to the least.

Watch video below:

With Dr Mahathir arresting his daughter’s hope for a change in Malaysia with regards to the LGBT community, it is the limits of the reform movement in the country that were exposed.

Malaysia is heading for massive reforms, but it will not tag along with the international community’s ‘obsession’ with the gay agenda.

In this aspect, it finds itself on the side of countries like Russia and the rest of the Muslim world that forms part of the very large number of nations that has opposed the agenda.