(The Star) - PAS leaders have refused to enter into a fresh round of bickering with veteran DAP leader Karpal Singh, who has joined in the chorus of criticism against gender segregation at the party’s Negri Sembilan Hari Raya open house.
PAS denied gender segregation was imposed at the party’s open house, but said it was a norm at PAS functions for men and women to sit separately.
Karpal had objected to the controversial move to segregate men and women at the open house at Dataran Senawang on Saturday, but DAP’s Rasah MP Anthony Loke had defended the move by attending the function.
PAS central committee member Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said the Islamist party had always prepared separate dining areas for men and women.
“We even prepared separate tents for males and females during the PAS Hari Raya open house in Kampung Baru last Sunday,” she said yesterday.
However, she said the party did not force its guests to follow the separate seating arrangements.
Dr Mariah, however, said that women in PAS generally preferred to be seated away from the men.
She praised the younger generation of DAP leaders like Loke who she said “has no problems attending functions where males and females are segregated”.
“Younger DAP leaders do not even mind if we do not shake hands.
“They understand and respect our way of life,” she added.
PAS information chief Idris Ahmad refused to be brought into the debate.
“We do not know what Karpal said, but Loke, who was at the event, did not say anything about it,” he said.
PAS central committee member Khalid Samad said it was not wrong for men and women to eat at the same table.
“However, separate seating arrangements are made for the convenience of the womenfolk. But we do not force people to follow suit. Perhaps Karpal is not aware of that,” he said.