Knickers in a twist

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How ridiculous that while our country is slowly but surely falling apart at the seams there was a worry about whether women would keep their knickers on or not on Valentine’s Day, muses our correspondent.

Every year, we face the over commercialisation of Valentine’s Day (much to the joy of the chocolate and rose flower profiteers), often missing the point of it. But this year, there was a twist to the Valentine’s Day message.

The Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) director had sent the message that Valentine’s Day was not for Muslims (The Star, 29 January 2010, ‘S’gor public parks to be fully lit to deter amorous interludes’) and that his officials would be on the look out for Muslims who were behaving improperly at budget hotels, shopping malls and parks. He apparently said, “If we find unmarried couples together they could be charged with committing khalwat.”

Woe betide those who tried to enjoy a romantic candle light dinner for two on Valentine’s Day as they would have suddenly found themselves in the company of strangers closely monitoring that their meal did not ‘lead to sexual activities in a hotel’ as suggested by the Jais director.

Just when we thought Jais had their hands full on Valentine’s Day monitoring potential khalwat situations across the state, matters took a turn for the worse. Horrors! Rumour had it that there was now a Valentine’s ‘No Panty Day’ promotion among female students in higher learning institutions, apparently an expression of true love for their boyfriends (The Star, 29 January 2010, ‘Bare your love this Valentine’s Day, female students urged’).

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Now what was Jais to do? Did they not have enough work already? Were there no limits to the dedication expected from Jais officials? Goodness! How would they be monitoring this situation? The mind boggled at the possibilities.

Reinforcements soon arrived in the form of UNGGAS, the Secretariat Against Social Ills, Penang who, according to their coordinator feared that the ‘no panties’ promotion would find its way into secondary schools (The Star, 8 February 2010, ‘Don’t take off your undies, urges anti-Valentine’s group’).

Could it get any worse? Nay, UNGGAS together with the Ulama Association of Malaysia Penang Chapter, Angkatan Pemuda Pemudi Islam and Komuniti Suara Kehidupan would have a ‘Valentine’s Day Trap’ to caution people against negative activities during Valentine’s Day. They would also conduct a preventive ‘Operasi Sayang Remaja’ at favourite youth hangouts in Penang.

Now, who would have thought that a small (well big in some cases) piece of women’s clothing (taken off in this instance) would create such moral outrage? And not that anyone would know or could see.

One can’t help but observe that there seems to be a very narrow definition of morality amongst certain groups. And it seems to centre around sex and the control over women’s bodies, attire and behavior.

One can only wonder that if there is so much concern about moral behavior, then where is the outrage over the immorality in the impending introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which would impact negatively on the lives of millions of Malaysians especially those in the lower income bracket?

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Where is the outrage over the expansion of the fee-paying patients scheme to four other public hospitals in the country – which would not only reduce the quality of care for thousands of ordinary patients in these hospitals but also prevent junior doctors and medical officers from getting the quality training and support they need from the specialists involved in this scheme?

How about some moral outrage over falsehoods carried ad nauseum by some mainstream media or over corruption in the country or the deaths in police custody?

Where are the protests against these types of immoral behavior or policies and negative activities?  

How ridiculous that while our country is slowly but surely falling apart at the seams there was a worry about whether women would keep their knickers on or not on Valentine’s Day!

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