Saturday, March 22, 2008

WCI introduces 'Mak Bedah' to Malaysians

From The Sun newspaper:

WCI introduces 'Mak Bedah' to Malaysians
PETALING JAYA (Feb 24, 2008): Injecting a bit of idealism and humour into the general elections, Women's Candidacy Initiative (WCI) formally introduced "Mak Bedah" to Malaysians today.

With a troupe of 30 supporters wearing T-shirts that read "We Are Shopping For A Real Candidate", Mak Bedah went around the nomination centre for Petaling Jaya Selatan with a shopping cart, asking candidates for their response on WCI's 10-point manifesto.

"If you want to buy a pair of shoes, you're not going to let someone just give you a pair and let them tell you that it fits you. You need to shop for it," explained said WCI representative Shanon Shah on why 'Mak Bedah' went 'shopping.

"Mak Bedah" is WCI's brainchild after Zaitun"Toni" Kassim who was supposed to stand as an independent candidate had to withdraw due to a para-typhoid attack on her liver.

"We're doing this because people remember Toni when she ran in 1999, they remember her as someone with a great sense of humour," said Shanon.

"Politics doesn't have to be boring and humourless. The creative strategy is the way to get people interested in issues."

A hypothetical Malay woman in her 40s, "Mak Bedah" is just like any other Malaysian who is curious about the candidates that will be representing her constituency.

"Mak Bedah is here to create awareness about our manifesto - a citizen's manifesto. We are so used to listening about manifestos from political parties, now we want to make our needs known as voters," he said.

In addition to Mak Bedah's introduction to the public in MBPJ today, WCI also launched a music video titled "Democracy Back" on YouTube.

A parody of the song "SexyBack" by Justin Timberlake, the song features Justin Timeforchange" and Mak Bedah (

Mak Bedah's walkabout today drew a lot of curious stares from shoppers and passersby in the area.

"It was strange, people didn't know what to make of us," said Shanon, adding that they were given a very warm reception by DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

"When we got there, we were immediately welcomed into the opposition's area. But when we tried to go to Barisan Nasional (BN)'s area, the police stopped us.

We told them that we are ordinary citizens and that "Mak Bedah" wants to meet all the candidates, but they wouldn't let us in," he said.

At the nomination centre "Mak Bedah" spoke to DAP's Edward Lee (running for Bukit Gasing state seat) and Keadilan's Hee Loy Sian who is running for PJ Selatan's parliamentary seat.

According to Shanon, Lee promised to help push the NGO's issues despite the fact that he was only a state assemblyman.

"He told us that he was well acquainted with our issues and said that he would try his best to help us. He asked us to send him more details on our points.

"Hee, told 'Mak Bedah that he would only be able to help if elected."

"Mak Bedah" was however unable to talk to BN's Datuk Donald Lim who is defending his PJ Selatan's parliamentary seat, whom she was told was busy.

"Instead, they asked us to go for his press conference tomorrow to ask our questions," Shanon said.

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