Working with Mahathir – the right thing to do?

This article was published in The Malay Mail Online, Malaysiakini, and the Blavatnik School of Government blog.

Mahathir, opposition parties, and civil society leaders signed the Deklarasi Rakyat.

Mahathir, opposition parties, and civil society leaders signed the Deklarasi Rakyat. Image from Malaysiakini.

Earlier this week, a group of influential Malaysians signed a “Declaration” calling for Prime Minister Najib Razak to be removed and for institutional reforms.

This is a major escalation in the effort to remove Najib, and an extraordinary development in Malaysian politics. Najib has faced months of exposés, investigations, and rebukes for corruption relating to the 1MDB scandal.

The signing of the Declaration is the first time that Najib’s critics from opposing sides have explicitly united against him. Continue reading

“Grandmothers” in politics – stating facts can be sexist (Malaysiakini)

This article was published in Malaysiakini.

A few days ago Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng called Penang state opposition leader Jahara Hamid a “typical grandmother” and an “unreasonable and racist grandmother”, according to news reports. He was reacting to something Jahara had said in the Penang state legislative assembly.

Criticised promptly by Jahara and women’s groups, Lim apologised. Subsequently, some of his women colleagues called him out as well.

This apology is commendable. Yet, at least by reading though comments to the news reports of this episode, many seem to think that Lim had nothing to apologise for, that calling someone a “grandmother” is just stating a fact, not being sexist. I get the feeling many others feel this way too. Continue reading