PETALING JAYA - Women leaders from both sides of the political divide were united in rebuking an Umno lawyer's remarks that Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail should not be made Mentri Besar because she is a woman.
MCA vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said although the Mentri Besar would need to accompany the Sultan to religious ceremonies, that was not the main responsibility.
"The Federal Government is committed to enhancing the role of women and we will not tolerate any form of gender discrimination," said the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister.
Umno legal adviser Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun was reported as saying that a woman Mentri Besar would suffer from uzur syarie (menses) which would become an obstacle should she be required to accompany the Sultan on religious functions.
Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie said the Mentri Besar should be selected based on experience, ability and commitment.
"I would like to remind male chauvinists, including Mohd Hafarizam, that without women and our biological nature to menstruate, none of us would exist today," she said.
Heng also questioned Wan Azizah's silence over the Mentri Besar's post, saying that it was probable that she would only serve as a puppet for PKR de facto leader and husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Puteri Umno chief Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said there was nothing wrong with women being leaders, naming Pakistan as one of the countries that had a female prime minister.
MIC national women's council member S. Kogilam said there were numerous instances where derogatory comments against women were uttered by politicians in Malaysia.
"If we continue to be lackadaisical, it will only further endorse such a sexist mindset," she said.
DAP assistant publicity secretary Teo Nie Ching said Mohd Hafarizam should apologise and retract his statement.
PKR MP Zuraida Kamaruddin slammed Mohd Hafarizam's remarks as "demeaning and narrow-minded".
"In Islam, women are equal to men. There are many women holding important positions in society such as doctors and engineers," she said.
In George Town, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Mohd Hafarizam's remark was "stupid" and an insult to all women.
He urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to take action against Mohd Hafarizam.
"It's (the statement) worse than (Kinabatangan MP) Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin's Hitler tweet," Lim said.
"He (Mohd Hafarizam) has 'out-Bunged' Bung Mokhtar."