KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25: MCA president Chua Soi Lek appears to be on a warpath, defending his criticism of Muslim women who chose not to shake hands with the opposite sex for religious reasons.
In an angry reaction to questions from reporters, Chua insisted that the norm practised by many Muslim women to avoid skin contact with the opposite sex during handshake was contrary to “basic culture and manners to shake hands”.
“I have been in the public life for many years. It’s part of the basic culture and manners to shake hands,” said Chua, who also scolded a reporter from online portal Malaysiakini, which first broke news of Chua’s attack on PAS candidate Normala Sudirman.
Chua had poked fun over Normala’s preference not to shake hands with the opposite sex, and compared it to a similar practice by PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
“She will not come here (a Chinese temple), she doesn’t even shake hands with the people. I have received complaints about this.
“She is like Anwar Ibrahim’s wife. She wears gloves when she shakes hands. If you can accept this kind of Islamic values, go ahead and vote for PAS,” he said.
This was followed by deputy Domestic Trade Cooperative and Consumer Affair minister Tan Lian Hoe of Gerakan lashing out at Normala and saying her practise was proof of PAS’s goal to establish “an extremist Islamic state”.
“This is the most basic thing… Not only men, but when she shakes hands with women, she also needs to wear glove,” alleged Tan in the presence of her minister Ismail Sabri.
“This is not friendly. It’s as if she thinks our hands are dirty… I hope the Chinese voters are careful (with Islamic state). We are very worried about the Islamic state. They want to implement an extremist Islamic state,” she added.
Chua’s comments drew strong reactions from Muslims from both sides of the divide, with many recalling his sex video which exposed his adulterous affair in a hotel room in 2008. Even UMNO deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin chided him for raising religious issues in MCA’s bid to convince Chinese voters that PAS would trample on non-Muslim rights.
Chua however dismissed Muhyiddin’s reminder.
“There is no need for the DPM or the media to communicate this to us,” an irate Chua was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying.
‘What’s so great?’
Despite the storm, Chua stood his ground, saying there was nothing great about knowing the Islamic religious values.
“So what is so great about that? That is your religious value which I don’t know. How am I to know about the religious values when I’m not practising that religion?”
“I have the right to say that it’s basic manners to shake hands with people. That’s my values. Understand? You also must value my value, which is good manners, which includes shaking hands,” he went on, as quoted by Malaysiakini.
Meanwhile, condemnations continue to pour in over Chua’s comments, with Selangor speaker Teng Chang Khim saying Chua’s ignorance reflected the failure of racial integration as claimed by Barisan Nasional.
“CSL says it’s not fair for non-Muslim to understand Islamic values. No wonder BN’s national integration policy has failed.
“CSL now blames the media for the hand shake issue. He never blames his narrow-mindedness and sheer ignorance,” added Teng on Twitter.
Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria has also broken his silence, and demanded Chua to issue an apology.
“He has to know… he must respect religious practices of others, but if he doesn’t know, that is ignorance. If he knows, but pretend not to, that is insulting Islam,” said Harussani, but quickly added he was not supporting the PAS candidate.