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Media statement by Teresa Kok Suh Sim in Shah Alam on Monday, 24th January 2011:

MCA and Gerakan leaders' insensitive and intolerant criticism of Normala Sudirman's personal religious beliefs reveal that they are extremists of their own kind and expose 1Malaysia for the sham that it is

I condemn MCA leaders Dr Chua Soi Lek, Ng Yen Yen, Chua Tee Yong, Fong Chan Onn, and Gerakan leader Tan Lian Hoe for their insensitive and intolerant remarks made to attack Normala Sudirman for her disinclination to shake hands with males who are not related to her due to her personal religious beliefs.

By making such remarks, these MCA and Gerakan leaders reveal their own religious bigotry and intolerance for religious practices different from their own. Their insistence that Normala should deny her faith, remove her gloves and shake hands with all is most disrespectful and is akin to insisting that a vegetarian must consume meat.

The fact is that these MCA and Gerakan leaders are extremists of their own kind and all their purported support for Najib's 1Malaysia is just a sham of political subservience. If they genuinely believed in 1Malaysia, they would appreciate that each person's religious practice is a very personal decision and so they would show more respect for Normala's faith instead of making these remarks:

  1. MCA President Chua Soi Lek denigrated Normala for her religious beliefs when he said, "(Normala) wears gloves when she shakes hands. If you can accept this kind of Islamic value, go ahead and vote for PAS."

    With his statement, Chua also spread the lie that non-handshaking is a PAS requirement when it is in fact a Muslim religious restriction that is also practiced by Muslim members of UMNO. Strangely, he has not taken UMNO members to task for it.

  2. MCA vice-president Ng Yen Yen belittled Normala's faith, questioning "¡­why is (Normala) making an issue about shaking hands with male voters?"

  3. On Twitter, MP for Labis Chua Tee Yong made the snide swipe, "candidate normala is wearg glove n assistant is shakg hand on her behalf. She will definitely claims it is health or personal reason"

  4. MCA's Fong Chan Onn offered us these gems on Twitter, "What happens if (Normala) saw a male knocked down by car. Will she go n help lift him??" and "Not shake hand is only 1st step to seperation, next will b no male n female in same hall etc etc"

  5. Gerakan Wanita chief Tan Lian Hoe accused Normala of being arrogant, saying, "Not only men, but when she shakes hands with women, she also needs to wear gloves. This is not friendly. It's as if she thinks our hands are dirty."

It is disgraceful that these MCA and Gerakan leaders are spreading religious bigotry and fear as a tactic to win votes for Barisan Nasional in the Tenang by-election. In doing so, they insult the intelligence of Tenang voters and all upright Malaysians.

I believe that Malaysian voters wish to elect a representative who is sincere, honest, has integrity, and clean, not corrupt. These qualities are more highly valued than superficialities like whether the representative shakes hands with all and sundry or not.

I wish to express my respect and admiration for Normala Sudirman for staying true to her faith and maintaining her grace and dignity in the face of such bigoted attacks.

* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, Selangor State Senior EXCO for Investment, Industry & Trade & MP for Seputeh



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