Menses bar Dr Wan Azizah from being MB, Umno lawyer claims

File picture shows Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
File picture shows Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The menstrual cycle prevents PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail from becoming Selangor mentri besar as she cannot attend religious events during that time of the month, an Umno lawyer has suggested.

Commenting on speculation that Dr Wan Azizah may be poised to replace Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun said the mentri besar has always been male for this reason despite there being no specific clause excluding a woman from holding the post.

“This is because should a woman mentri besar suffer from ‘uzur syarie’ (period), there will be many obstacles for her to accompany the Sultan at religious functions,” Hafarizam was quoted as saying in a New Straits Times report today that cited him as a “constitutional expert”..

“Hence, the Article under the Selangor constitution for example may not hinder a woman from becoming a mentri besar, but by convention there could be problems due to the said circumstances.”

Hafarizam is the legal adviser to Umno and rose to prominence for his central role in the legal battles arising from the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis, which saw Barisan Nasional (BN) regain the state from Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

In Islam, a menstruating woman is considered “unclean”, and is prohibited from praying and reading Quran, among others.

Most Islamic scholars also bar women from entering a mosque while menstruating.

An International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) also concurred with Hafarizam, stating that a woman mentri besar would be less practical.

For example, Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz said a woman mentri besar would have to sit separately from the Sultan in accordance to formalities.

“There is no specification in the state laws that does not allow for a woman to be the mentri besar. The main requirements are for the candidate to be Muslim and Malay,” said Shamrahayu.

“But we also have to take into account sensitivities and taboo in society, as well as whether we are ready for a female mentri besar.”

The Constitution of the State of Selangor 1959 only requires the mentri besar to be a Malay and Muslim, but does not lay down conditions on the gender.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is both a Malay and a Muslim, is also the state assemblyman for the Kajang constituency in Selangor, fulfilling the most important requirement.

There is renewed agitation within Pakatan Rakyat to remove Khalid from the post, stemming from apparent dissatisfaction with his administration of Selangor.

He survived one such attempt, dubbed the “Kajang Move”, in March after the purported plan to install Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his place fell through.

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