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MGG: Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The stupid, idiotic mentri besar cometh!
By M.G.G. Pillai

6/12/2001 2:34 am Thu

Selangor wants condoms sold -- even to married couples -- only on doctor's prescription and in clinics, hospitals and pharmacies and where they cannot be easily available to the public. The mentri besar, Dato' Seri Mohd Khir Toyo, looks how to regulate its sale, and wants local councils to prevent its widespread use among the public. The Selangor (Islamic) Fatwa Council, which should know beter, believes The idiocy of the proposal, to which the state, believes the ban on condoms is the best solution to control the spread of AIDS and extramarital affairs. The National Front did not object, notwithstanding, it is reported, as in the New Straits Times today (05 Dec 2001, p8), with seriousness and as a page lead.

Dr Mohd Khir's promise to study it further is UMNO-speak for "it is agreed" and a signal for its coalition partners to address the issue by backing the idea wholeheartedly. If the opposition parties attack it, it provides yet another round of accusing them of anti-national behaviour in not accepting ground realities. If it is a component partner in the governing coalition, then it is on the high moral ground of how correct their decision was, even it it rescinded under public pressure. It does not matter if the subject is the sale of condoms or the renaming of roads. The strongest support for the Islamicising of road names in Ipoh is not UMNO but MCA and PPP. As you would have realised by now, the National Front coalition partners are there to provide the multiracial rent-a-crowd, not to question or challenge.

Decisions are made made in secret before the formal meeting, and sprung upon in public in a seeming display of unity. Or when the mentris besar is rejuvenated by an attack of stupidity and idiocy, as in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Penang and Johore. Dato' Seri Mohd Khir is accused of corruption, with three police reports lodged, and a call on the Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate. He himself talks of being a one-term mentri besar. The police as usual investigates these only when they are ordered it gives him some space to manouevre. But he is caught in a new political mood in which the Malays are not prepared to accept UMNO leaders if they are deemed to be corrupt. The leaders themselves find they have to offer the expendable to the wolves, as the former cabinet minister, Dato' Seri Annuar Musa, after money meant for the very poor was diverted and its director-general investigated.

But Dato' Seri Mohd Khir's decision we have come to expect from a National Front thoroughly disoriented by UMNO's continuing irrelevance as a political party. The face of politics has changed, and mentris besar and others are held to account. This they are not accustomed to. And they divert attention by such stupidities as Dato' Seri Mohd Khir's desire to control the sale of contraceptives even to married couples. It is stupid pe se. But it is presented as if it has religious backing. He does not, of course, say if it is meant for only Muslims or for others. The newspaper takes only Muslim advice, and it does not ask the health authorities what they think of crazy ideas like these.

It is this uncritical reporting that raises doubt about current fears that we are led up the garden path in this march to an Islamic state. The information ministry had its booklet in which the non-Muslims have lost their constitutional rights, and is withdrawn only because of public pressure. But why was that not first brought before the cabinet for approval when even the price of fish and sugar are within its purview? The non-Malay partners in the coalition dare not question, and this is taken as approval for the measure at hand. There is no public debate, which is discouraged for the views the government cannot answer. And the political parties which demand answers.

So, why did Dato' Seri Mohd Khir think it a brilliant solution to control the spread of AIDS to demand that condoms could only be sold by prescription? He wants to be seen to be at the cutting edge of Islamic thinking, though his actions suggest he is on its (and UMNO's) chopping block. So used to have his words respected as Socrates', he, and his ilk, thinks above his station and believes he holds the key to the life and death of those who live in Selangor. Unlike Socrates, he would not allow his words to be challenged. Not anymore. And he looks for extraneous ways to extricate himself from the political jam he is in, and decides to confirm that he is as stupids as others now decide he is.

He forgot a simple rule of politics: if he strays into people's bedrooms, he seeks trouble. His proposal is as idiotic as he is now. All this shows is that he is as expendable to UMNO as UMNO is to the Malay community. The only difference is that the UMNO president and Malaysian prime minister, Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed, knows what ails UMNO and moves to revamp in ways no one thought he could just a year ago; and Dato' Seri Mohd Khir moves to self-destruct.

M.G.G. Pillai

New Straits Times, 05 Dec 2001, National, p9:


'Local councils have to play their roles'

By Azura Abas

SHAH ALAM, Tues: The Selangor agreed that there should be restricted selling of condoms, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd. Khir Toyo, said today.

He said the matter would be looked into thoroughly before the State could enforce it.

"I feel that local councils have to play their roles to regulate the selling of condoms.

"Condoms should be sold at certain places only, like clinics, hospitals and pharmacies," he told reporters after breaking fast with university students at his official residence.

Meanwhile, the Selangor Fatwar Committee has added its support to the State Youth Council's proposal to the STate government that the sale of condoms be controlled.

The support was expressed in a letter dated 26 Nov and signed by the State Mufti Department officer, Md Razali Hassanus.

The committee also suggested that condoms be sold only to those infected with HIV/AIDS and married couples who could produce doctors' letters.

State Youth council president, Datuk Abdul Rahman Patail said he was aware that the issue of controlling the sale of condoms would not augur well with 'certain quarters'.

"However, if the Government can ban those below 16 from buying cigarettes, then why can't the same thing be implemented on the purchase of condoms?"

He said this after breaking fast with 56 orphans from the Sungei Pinang Orphanage and congregation from the Kampung Jawa Mosque at the council headquarters.

The State Entrepreneur Development, youth, small and medium industry committee chairman, Datuk Abdul Fatah Iskandar, was present.

"The current practice of selling condoms openly has yet to show positive in combatting AIDS/HIV problems in the country," Abdul Rahman said.

It was recently reported that about 1.6 million people in Southeast Asia have HIV/AIDS.

Also Malaysia recorded about 40,000 cases up to June this year compared with only 6,000 in 1993.

On the council's next move, Abdul Rahman said it would prepare a memorandum on the issue to be submitted to relevant quarters.