After discourse, Putrajaya to focus on finance, guidance, acceptance of transgenders

Kenneth Tee
Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Nisha Ayub shake hands at a press conference in Putrajaya August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 10 ― The public should not discriminate the transgender community in the workplace as they are made up of ordinary citizens who wished for equal opportunities as their peers, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa said today.

Following a meeting with transwoman activist Nisha Ayub here, Mujahid added there will be three aspects that the ministry will focus on when it comes to the transgender community: for them to be financially independent, to “guide them”, and ensuring acceptance by the public.

“From this meeting, we received a lot of information regarding the transgender community and it has come to our understanding that this group continues to be discriminated by the public.

“Such discrimination do not help them to integrate into society and most importantly, for them to be independent of their livelihood,” the minister in charge of Islamic affairs said at the Putrajaya Islamic Complex.

Mujahid said it was important to help the transgender community with their current predicament, as they were most vulnerable due to constant discrimination.

“Transgenderism is a reality that we cannot deny so if we are unable to avoid it, why not live with it in the context of treating them fairly?

“The marginalised community is not asking for same-sex marriage or special rights, but wish to live as normal Malaysians, which I think we have no problem with,” he said.

Mujahid said following the discussion with Nisha, he agreed that more awareness was needed to educate the public that transgender groups also want equal access to education and houses of worship.

“This meeting is a big step, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to educating the public and this is my concern at the moment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nisha said she was pleased with today's meeting and she encouraged the LGBT community to engage with the ministry.

“However, it is not fair for me to represent the other communities as I personally approached Datuk as a trans advocate,” she said, referring to Mujahid.

“But I am sure if they approached Datuk, he would be happy to meet them.”

Nisha said she was shocked when Mujahid agreed to a meeting with her after she got in touch with him through Facebook.

“This is the first time a minister has agreed to come forward to meet people like me and it is certainly mind-blowing,” she said.

On Wednesday, Nisha’s portrait, along with that of fellow LGBT activist Pang Khee Teik, was removed from a photography exhibition at the George Town Festival 2018.

Mujahid later confirmed while at Parliament that he instructed the portraits be removed as it was considered to be promoting LGBT activities, adding it is not in line with the Pakatan Harapan government’s policies.