PKR MP Zulkifli Nordin has defended a ruling by the Kota Baru Municipal Council against purported improper sports attire at its park. The controversial Bandar Kulim Baharu MP has questioned the right of joggers to wear "tight shorts, mini skirts, breast-hugging T-shirts and tight shorts for men."
Zulkifli's line of argument is a pathetic joke. No one who goes to a park to exercise would wear mini-skirts and what is his definition of "tight shorts" and "breast-hugging T-shirts" especially in conservative Kota Baru? He is just exaggerating. Joggers want to feel comfortable and healthy when they go to a park to exercise. Wearing shorts is certainly not extraordinary nor indecent.
The problem is when such a directive is issued, its implementation is always open to abuse. What is essentially a decent pair of shorts could be regarded as "sexy and skimpy" in the eyes of some self-appointed guardians of morality. After all, even rock singer Avril Lavigne is regarded as "sexy" by PAS, which became international news. The KB ruling is unnecessary and smacks of Talibanisation of the state by PAS. In short - no pun intended - there are now many intolerant moral policemen around.
In his blog, Zulikifli has pointed out that in Uttar Pradesh, colleges have banned female students from wearing jeans and other forms of western clothing. Anyone who has a rational head would object, of course. Why should jeans and western clothing be banned? Does that make it right? Using the same principle, how would Zulkifli react if colleges in western countries decide to ban the purdah and other Arabic clothing? What if these westerners claim that headscarves and similar clothing would be unsuitable for sports?
People must have the right to choices. How people want to dress up is nobody's business and if there are those who want to cover themselves from head to toe, even in the heat, it is their right. We should defend their rights, as Karpal Singh has done so. But if we wish to run around in shorts, loose or hugging T-shirts, it is also our right. If there are such dress code in our local public universities or parks in other states, we should also register our protest. It is also Zulkifli's right to quit PKR and join PAS.