PETALING JAYA, Malaysia: After enforcing gender segregation in hair salons, cinemas and supermarket payment counters, the Kelantan PAS state government has now banned males from watching female sporting events.
Its Youth Development, Sports and Non-Governmental Organisation Committee chairman Dr Ramli Mamat has announced that men would not be allowed to become spectators and supporters at the coming netball tournament to be held in all parliamentary constituencies in the state.
All officials for the competitions, to be held from Sept 6 to Oct 25, must be women and those taking part must be above the age of 18.
Ramli said players for the competition, regardless of religious beliefs, would be required to wear long-sleeved T-shirts and loose-fitting track pants throughout the game.
This latest move by the Kelantan government has drawn strong criticism from Wanita MCA, with its chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie saying it was a regressive ruling which would hamper the development of sports in the state.
"This is utterly ludicrous because today's modern world is all interconnected. Hence, it is practically impossible to deny the opposite gender from viewing any sporting events involving women.
"Banning male supporters at the competitions in the state will not deter them from viewing sports events involving the opposite gender, given the availability and easy access to the Internet, television or movie broadcasts and mobile photography," she said in a statement.
"If PAS is so fearful of males viewing females and vice versa, then they might as well issue directives or propose state enactment outlawing television and movie programmes, and the Internet," said Heng.
She also took the DAP to task for failing to provide a check and balance against its Pakatan Rakyat ally's stand on gender segregation.
"How will Kelantan ever be developed into a hub for regional or international sporting event given PAS' obsession of policing attire even for sports meets?
"Certain sports like swimming, diving, athletics, cycling and gymnastics require body-hugging sports costumes to enable speed and agility - these objectives will be defeated if athletes are compelled to wear loose-fitting shirts and track pants," she said, adding that what the state government was aping was the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.