First, the recent pornographic screening of a sex video in a hotel for the press involving a foreign sex worker is an assault on all women. Prostitution and pornography harm women. Prostitution commodifies women, exploits their poverty and powerlessness.
Pornography portrays women as sexual objects and men as consumers of a sex industry dominated by corruption, crime such as trafficking of women.
How is it possible for a foreign woman to work as a sex worker in a KL spa without the knowledge of the police, the Immigration and City Hall? Aren't these authorities monitoring the activities of spas? (I am hearing women now fear going to spas as they seem to be fronts for prostitution and there are cameras to capture women showering, having a massage.)
The screening of this video in government-owned Carcosa Seri Negara is not possible without state sanction.
One of the trio involved is an Umno stalwart, former chief minister, current chairman of Risda - the association to protect the interests of rubber smallholders, who have remained poor and powerless. The chairman has abused his powers as head of a government organisation to use a state facility to screen a pornographic video.
(Former Malacca chief minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, businessman Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) treasurer Shuib Lazim, have admitted that they were part of the 'Datuk T' trio responsible for keeping and screening the video to members of the media at Carcosa Seri Negara last week.)
The chairman should not only be charged with breach of section 292 of the Penal Code but also perhaps with corruption. Transparency International defines corruption as abuse of power.
But a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department has announced that the purveyors of the sex video would be offered protection under the Witness Protection Act as well as the Whistleblowers Act if there is a case against them. (He later made an about-turn.) This will defeat the purpose of these two pieces of legislation in cases related to rape, child abuse and corruption, etc.
Pillars of integrity decaying rapidly
The national pillars of integrity are decaying rapidly when those who have breached laws of the country are assured protection by the state. Have we begun to revere those who flaunt laws to kill political opponents? Once we have reached such a stage, crime and corruption become non-issues in the election of political representatives.
Parliament is a fundamental pillar of a nation's integrity system. Parliament must comprise of individuals of integrity. Parliament will lose whatever respect it has if it is going to be filled with those who have abused their positions, bribed and rigged themselves into power.
Said Niccolo Machiavelli, “Those who talk about the peoples of our day being given to robbery and similar vices will find that they are all due to the fact that those who ruled them behave in the same manner.” When the incidence of crime such as robberies, rape, child abuse, corruption etc increase, it is a reflection of a decaying legislature .
The executive used sex in 1998 to send to jail Anwar Ibrahim, a political opponent the state feared. After serving a six-year jail term, the conviction against sodomy was overturned. But the significant gains made by the opposition in 2008 rang alarm bells for the state (the party in power). Again, sex became the weapon for seeking the demise of a powerful opponent. Anwar is on trial for the second time on charges of sodomy.
The role of an important pillar of integrity, an independent judicial system, is central for a just, open and accountable government. The overturning of the first sodomy charge against Anwar speaks volumes about the independence and accountability of the judiciary. Was the judiciary independent of the executive in this sex and the state case?
The revelations of a former director-general of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Shafee Yahaya (right), during Anwar's trial throws light on the interference of the executive in the functions of the ACA.
Shafee's court statement was related to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's directive that the ACA cease investigating then Economic Planning Unit director-general Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman in June 1998. In his recent memoirs, Mahathir referred to Shafee as a hostile witness in the sodomy case. Shafee is a rare civil servant who stood up for the truth.
When the state uses sex to stay in power, the decay of the pillars of integrity such as the Parliament, police, judiciary, ACA, local authorities, Immigration, media and civil society becomes imminent.
Information central to integrity system
It has been said power is about controlling the means of communication. But information is central to a nation's integrity system. A free media and an independent judiciary are powerful counter forces to check those in positions of power.
The Malaysian media, particularly the mainstream media's reporting of the ongoing sodomy case and screening of a sex video obviously favours the proprietors of the media. The media owners are primarily political parties in the ruling coalition. I have yet to see an editorial condemning the use of sex by the state to kill political opponents. The mainstream media appears to have gone into damage control mode to protect those who screened the sex video.
Civil society, another pillar of integrity, gains its legitimacy from promoting the public interest. The sex video is a matter of grave public interest. In the 1998 sodomy case, children were asking parents: what is sodomy? Today I am told, some young people are asking, “Why are grandfathers involved in the screening of sex videos??”
What message are we sending to our young? That it is all right to use sex to get rid of your opponents?? Civil society, particularly, women's groups, religious entities, parents, etc must stop this rot.
When the state uses sex as a weapon to destroy political opposition, political leaders will not be remembered as statesmen but as practitioners of gutter politics.
JOSIE M FERNANDEZ has taken up the cudgels for women, children, farmers, the environment, free press and against corruption.