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Rebel child in Mahathir's Malaysia
By Bhavana Vij
20/5/2001 10:29 pm Sun
[Sejak Marina Mahathir menceburi Yayasan AIDS pada 1993, semakin
banyak pula kes yang melibatkan penyakit ini dilapurkan. Pada tahun
1993 ia cuma 6,000 kes sahaja tetapi pada tahun 2000 ia sudah naik
berganda-ganda mencecah angka 38,000. Sepatutnya dia sudah lama
bersara menerajui yayasan ini kerana semakin berleluasa penyakit
yang amat merbahaya ini alang-alang promosi kaedah selamat hubungan
seks yang dipeloporinya itu. Tentu kita masih ingat strategi memberi
k*nd*m percuma yang langsung menggalakkan hubungan seks tanpa mengenal
sopan budaya berleluasa.
Kuala Lumpur: Nobody would ever guess that she is the Prime Minister's
daughter. There are no security personnel hovering around. She drives her own
car and talks about sex and condoms.
The petite and attractive Marina Mahathir has no airs about her. She works with
the Malaysian Aids Council - an umbrella organisation for 33 NGOs working in
spreading AIDS awareness in the country. The 44-year-old daughter of prime
minister Mahathir bin Mohammad is almost considered a rebel in the largely
She writes an outspoken weekly column in a daily newspaper and takes up
contentious issues like religion and talks about tolerance. She also manages a
Public Relations and publishing house, and produces a TV programme for
Dressed in a chic short skirt, Marina Mahathir says it is not easy being the PM's
daughter. ''Since I am in the public eye - giving lectures on safe sex,
condoms and needles - it is easier to target me. At times, I am also used as a
surrogate target by people who actually want to target my father for political
reasons,'' she says.
It has apparently not been easy for her. People don't take too kindly to a
woman talking about ''taboo'' topics in public. And being the PM's daughter
makes it worse.
But then there's always the flip side. Being her father's daughter also has a
few benefits. ''It helps in opening doors, specially where fund raising for the
Malaysian Aids Council is concerned. But then that is only the first step. Once
through the door, it is upto me to convince people enough to shell out the
money,'' she says. The council does not get any foreign funding, unlike in
India where funds pour in from various international agencies for Aids
''We organise events and sell merchandise to raise the money. Sometimes,
others organise functions and give the proceeds to the Malaysian Aids Council.
We also get some funds from the government,'' Mahathir explains. She has
surely succeeded in giving Aids awareness a high profile. She says that the
scourge of Aids has really spread in the country '' In 1993, when I started
working on Aids, there were 6,000 reported cases in Malaysia. According to
the figures of the year 2000, they have increased manifold to 38,000. It is
alarming. Sometimes I think what we are doing is not enough. The message is
spreading to smaller towns outside Kuala Lumpur. We have to spread out
more,'' says an impassioned Mahathir.
Married to an Indonesian, she has three children and tries her best to manage her time properly. ''I do stretch their patience. I am lucky that they still remember me,'' she says with a smile. Having studied International Relations from University of Sussex in Brighton, Mahathir feels that women in Malaysia have a long way to go. ''But unfortunately, the society is becoming more and more conservative,'' she adds. In the TV programme she produces, Mahathir teaches women about options in life. And once again one cannot help but compare Marina Mahathir with the kin of Indian politicians.