Normala defends refusal to shake hands with men

(The Malaysian Insider) – PAS’s Tenang by-election candidate Normala Sudirman sought to play down today Barisan Nasional’s (BN) attack against her, saying her refusal to shake hands with men is a petty issue.

The Labis PAS Muslimat chief also condemned MCA leaders for what she claimed as the Chinese party’s failure to understand her rights as a Muslim.

“I hope my opponent can be more mature. What is more important is our policy and the party’s commitment to the people,” Normala told The Malaysian Insider after the by-election nomination process today.

“We do not want to touch on personal issues or character assassinate, which I think does not reflect what we have been focusing on,” she said.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was reported to have criticised Normala for her refusal to shake hands with men, saying that her practice was not acceptable to the Chinese community.

Many pious Muslims do not shake hands with mahram (unmarriageable kin), believing that the practice is prohibited in Islam.

PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, for example, wears gloves when shaking hands with men.

Today, Normala blamed Umno for what she claimed to be the Malay’s party failure to educate its Chinese partner on Islamic values.

“Most importantly, after 53 years of independence MCA should understand Islamic principles as it has been in Barisan Nasional together with Umno,” said the former teacher who resigned last month to enable her to contest.

“For me Umno and BN will continue harping on petty issues. Whatever we do or don’t do would be subjected to criticism.

“I personally sympathise with Soi Lek for his lack of understanding on Islam despite being a partner in BN for a very long time. It is Umno’s responsibility to educate its partners on the rights of Muslim individuals,” the 39-year-old said.

Normala also said she was ready to face more personal attacks from BN leaders, adding that PAS’s partners in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would be more than willing to campaign together.

“For us, most importantly, we want to explain to our friends about the life of Muslim individuals. God willing, I am ready to face any lies coming from the opponent.

“The bigger problem is our focus on the people’s welfare, social, economy, many other issues,” she added.