Runners ignore Kelantan’s gender segregation order

KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — The Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB)’s directive to segregate men and women in a running event backfired after most of the participants ignored the order.

According to The Star, the MPKB issued the directive for the first time during the 7km Run for Peace event organised by Buddhist group Soka Gakkai Malaysia.

But most of the 1,400 participants reportedly ignored the directive during the actual event.

In response, groups have said that this latest incident is proof that Kelantan PAS’s policies affect non-Muslims as well.

Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin from civil group G25 said that the directive reflected the increasing conservatism of authorities in the PAS-controlled state.

“Non-Muslims should protest the encroachment of their rights by the council,” she was quoted as saying, adding that the directive was not an isolated case but the latest in a string of directives which have affected non-Muslims.

Kelantan MCA chief Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung said that the MPKB should consider racial harmony before making such a decision.

“This is a sensitive issue so we must use wisdom to protect the feelings of all races,” Hou said.

MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said that the directive showed that the public could no longer trust the promises made by the Kelantan PAS government.

Gerakan secretary-general Datuk Liang Teck Meng called the directive unnecessary and unfortunate.

“This is disappointing to see happen in Malaysia. We shouldn’t be moving backwards, and it’s not that we don’t respect Muslim sensitivities but I appeal that we are at least given some flexibility,” he said.

This is not the first time the MPKB has courted controversy over its directives. Last year, the council issued a summons to a watch retailer who featured “sexy” posters in his shop.

In 2013, MPKB had also given verbal warnings to hair salon operators to take down “sexy” posters of hair models.





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