KUALA LUMPUR: The past month has seen a barrage of sex scandals in both Malaysia and Singapore. Now, the countries’ residents are fed up, demanding that the media end the tirade on sex. Citizens in both countries have told Bikyamasr.com that they are “tired” of all the coverage over issues “that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.”
At least in Malaysia, where media coverage of potential politicians sexual affairs has created anger towards the local press.
“I don’t like it,” began Mourad Aziz, a 37-year-old carpenter in Kuala Lumpur. He told Bikyamasr.com that the ongoing coverage “is taking away from the issues, especially if we are to have elections in the coming year.”
For him, and others, too much sex scandal has led to both the opposition and the ruling government lose favor among the people.
They simply want coverage to focus on the events and issues that affect their daily lives.
“I know we have problems, just like in Singapore, but the way the coverage is heading it makes it out to seem like all politicians want is sex, and while this may be partly true, the coverage doesn’t help push the country forward,” said Monica Chang, a media consultant.
For her, both Singapore and Malaysia media are focusing on scandal “in order to sell newspapers and are forgetting the role of the press is to inform.
“Talking about gender and violence against women is vitally important and should be discussed, but here in Singapore, for example, the coverage has sexualized the women involved instead of talking of a real debate about how to end assaults,” she told Bikyamasr.com.
While Malaysians have been hit by only a few scandals, in Singapore, the situation is far worse, where the issue of sealing business deals with sexual favors has highlighted the need for women’s rights to be discussed.
And women are speaking out, despite facing a backlash in a society increasingly tired of the coverage.
“I have seen it happen over and over here. You just sit at a dinner and you know that the woman at the table plans to get what she wants and no cost is too high,” said Leanne, a top executive for an international company. “Women will use sex as a means of ensuring that the deal they want signed gets done. It is no different than prostitution really, and it is happening more and more often.”
While Singapore maintains an almost Asian stigma surrounding sex: don’t talk about it, the reality on the ground is often strikingly different than the discussions that take place in cafes and at home concerning the topic.
For Leanne, the government must come down hard on both the men and women involved in the current scandal, or the country won’t be able to rid itself of this problem.
“We are working in business, but that does not mean we can trade our bodies in order to get something done. But right now, women want to get ahead and the system isn’t helpful, so they have sex with executives to get where they want to be,” she added.
Another female executive in the city argued that revamping the business regulation and structure is needed to end “sex-for-business” deals in the city.
She argued that the current pay scale and advancement available to women is limited.
“There must be a change from the top down if this is to end, because often many women believe that only through sex can they get where they want to be. It is unfortunate and degrading for the rest of us, because other businessmen will think they can proposition us when they want a ‘little extra’ for a deal to go through,” the executive told Bikyamasr.com.
And companies appear unwilling to take action, women say, arguing that companies actually promote women using “all means necessary” to ink an agreement.
“This is the biggest problem we face, that business owners, CEOs and others are pushing their female employees to do more than their jobs, and they even threaten firing if it doesn’t happen,” Leanne argued.
She said that sometimes, she has heard, in the workplace, women are forced to give sexual favors to their bosses in order to keep their jobs.
“This is disgusting, but with the economic situation terrible and uncertainty in the air, the women cannot afford to lose their jobs,” she added.
Both executives argued that the government must use the recent scandal to implement new strategies to combat sexual abuse in the business environment. Obviously, with government officials using sex as a tool, it may be difficult.
One top Singapore police official told Bikyamasr.com that the police force in the country “is taking this situation seriously and want to end this type of acts, because it is a threat to the very nature of Singapore society.”
With women increasingly using sex to get what they want, society must reflect on themselves, the women executives said.
“While this may be business-related, the fact that we in Singapore are often afraid of sex, it must also be discussed and talked about at all levels of society if it is to see an end,” added the executive.
But at the end of the day, Chang said the coverage doesn’t focus on these issues, “it centers around the men involved.
“It is as if women are the criminals and not the victims here and that they should be punished. No wonder people are so tired of this,” she added.
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