Wednesday, 28 November 2012

MCA and its hair salon cause celebre

COMMENT While it has remained mum on many issues affecting non-Muslim civil rights and concerns over their religious freedom, Chinese-only party MCA now appears to suggest that nothing is more close to the hearts of non-Muslims than unisex hair salons.

Since last week, the BN component party has turned into a factory, dishing out statements condemning a Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB) ruling prohibiting unisex services in hair salons that came into force in 1991.

NONEThe rule was introduced amid complaints from members of the public that hair salons in the state, too, were being abused to solicit for sexual services, as was the case in the other states where many a raid by enforcement agencies revealed illegal brothels masquerading as unisex hair and beauty salons.

A report that a hairdresser was slapped with a fine by the MPKB recently for flouting the rule has given the Chinese party a cause celebre, at a time political pundits warn that the party could well forget about coming out of its political hibernation in the coming general election following its disastrous performance in 2008.

Yet again yesterday, party leaders took turns churning out their respective statements of 'outrage', to the extent that a person foreign to Malaysian politics reading them will be forgiven for thinking that unisex salons are a hallowed issue to Malaysian non-Muslims and considered something sacred.

Lowest form of wit in journalism

Within the last 24 hours, several MCA personalities have passionately argued in defence of the plight of the 'oppressed' hairdressers, issuing statements containing clichéd puns, arguably the lowest form of wit in journalism.

Wong Chun Wai, the party's master propagandist, was in the usual anti-PAS element when he tried to hint that women in many respected professions are exposed to vice.

"Will we see PAS banning women doctors from treating male patients?" asked the group chief editor of MCA-owned English-language daily Star.

The task given to MCA organising secretary, meanwhile, is to target DAP over its political alliance with PAS.

NONE Tee even suggested that DAP Socialist Youth chief Anthony Loke Siew Fook (right) "must carry some responsibility" for the hair salons rule, and went a step further by linking this to the hudud enactment of Kelantan.

"Immediately after the issue of the ban on hair salons, Loke should have spoken up against this regulation which have caused dissatisfaction among the people of Kelantan and creating difficulties for them," declared Tee.

Not to be outdone, MCA Youth secretary-general Chai Kim Sen chipped in, describing the MPKB rule as one that threatened "freedoms and livelihoods of non-Muslims".

Take on two weekend rallies?

The party, whose current president Dr Chua Soi Lek was caught on camera having sex with his girlfriend in 2008, also expressed dismay that MPKB has a rule disallowing cubicles in hair salons, a normal rule enforced by many other municipal councils nationwide on other businesses, including reflexology centres.

"From the regulations above, it is very obvious that the Kelantan state government encroaches into the freedoms and livelihoods of non-Muslims as their business operations have been greatly hindered," Chai said.

Meantime, the party has yet to give its take on two major demonstrations over the weekend: the protest in Petaling Jaya organised by the United Chinese Schools Committees Association (Dong Zong) against the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025, and the anti-Lynas walk that ended at Dataran Merdeka.

One cannot help noticing that the bulk of the participants in those two gatherings were Chinese, although they were joined in solidarity by other races.

The question whether MCA thinks the right to live without radioactive poison is secondary to the right to get unisex services is now answered by the party's outpouring of grief over the MPKB rule.

On hindsight, if this rule had been enforced by, say, the City of London or Singapore on the basis of public decency, it would not have evoked such false liberalism from some.

This, of course, again highlights the limits and shortcomings faced by an Islamic party in ruling within modern multiracial settings, even if it means well.

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