Monday, 9 April 2012

Khatijah Sidek

Publications on Khatijah Sidek:

1. Khatijah Sidek. 2001. Memoirs of Khatijah Sidek: Puteri Kesatria Bangsa. Bangi: Penerbit UKM.

2. Khatijah Sidek. 1995. Memoir Khatijah Sidek: Puteri Kesateria Bangsa. First printing. UKM Bangi.

Available via Interlibrary Loan from UKM library

3. Jendela Selatan, Bil. 7, Disember 2003/Syawal-Zulkaedah 1424. This copy of Jendela Selatan was provided by En Aris bin Abdul Aziz, Johor (deceased on 8 March 2012).

Khatijah bt Sidek was featured in Jendela Selatan, Dec 2003. 
Khatijah bt Sidek as featured in Jendela Selatan, Dec 2003.
Khatijah bt Sidek
Khatijah was featured at a blog which described her as the first Wanita UMNO. Some reports said she was the third Wanita UMNO.

Khatijah Sidek was born in 1918 in Pariaman, West Sumatra in Indonesia. She was the youngest of ten siblings and the only girl. Her birth was as a result of her mother's long prayers for a girl after she had nine boys. As such, she was termed anak niat or anak nazar.

She was from a Minangkabau family that followed the matrilineal heritage system of the family's wealth. It should be noted that this kind of tribal practice of inheritance is against what Islam defines under the Islamic system of inheritance called the faraid.

She was against polygamy. However, in 1948, Khatijah bt Sidek married to Dr Hamzah bin Mohd Taib, an early Malay doctor from Johor, as his second wife. It was Dr Hamzah's second marriage. At the time of their marriage, Dr Hamzah was Naib Yang Dipertua Lembaga Kesatuan Melayu Johor. She assisted with activities of the LKMJ's lady's wing. She established HIMWIM which was active in Singapore and Malaya. HIMWIM advocated for better social status of women who were like her - as second wife. Khatijah was arrested under the Emergency Act, for two years - from the end of 1948 to early 1950. Khatijah had three children with Dr Hamzah, the eldest was a girl born while she was under detention.

After she was freed, she joined UMNO in 1953 as the first leader of its women's group. She fought for the equal status of man and women at the Persidangan Agung UMNO in 1953. She wanted women to be allowed to vote, and for better representation of women at the national level. As such, she became a controversial political figure, against a conservative male-dominated UMNO leaders. To UMNO, she painted a picture that was misaligned against UMNO's aims.

In 1956, Khatijah suggested to establish Kesatuan Wanita but this suggestion was not supported by Ibu Hajjah Zain who advised Khatijah to be patient and support the nationalistic goals of UMNO.

PAS President, Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi invited Khatijah Sidek into joining PAS. Khatijah joined then Parti Islam Se-Tanah Melayu in October 1958. She won the elections for PAS in 1959, and served PAS as its Ahli Dewan Rakyat for Dungun in Terengganu for one term (1959-64).

When she served as the first Wakil Rakyat Muslimat PAS and Ketua Dewan Muslimat PAS (1964-65), again Khatijah faced the conservative men and became a controversial figure. She blamed the party's attitude which was state-based, then under Dato' Asri bin Haji Muda. She was an Indonesian and serving in Terengganu.

In 1964, Khatijah was appointed as Pesuruhjaya PAS Negeri Johor. In this way, PAS flung her out of Terengganu and Kelantan which were PAS domains and strongholds. In the 1964 general elections, Khatijah lost to Dato' Dr Ismail bin Dato' Abdul Rahman (an early Malay doctor) for the Johor Timur constituency which she represented.

After Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi passed away in 1969, there was no support for Khatijah's efforts and she sadly left PAS. She contested as a free agent in the 1969 general elections for Kota Bharu Hulu constituency against Dato' Mohammad Asri bin Haji Muda but lost. Following her loss in the 1969 general elections against PAS, Khatijah kept away from politics but was not oblivious to political changes and progress.

The 13 May incidences ensued two days following the 1969 general elections. The elections were on 11 May 1969 and the bloody racial masacre started on 13 May 1969, after the election results were out. At the time Tun Abdul Razak bin Datuk Hussein was the second prime minister and Dato' Dr Ismail bin Dato' Abdul Rahman was the deputy prime minister. Following the 13 May incidences, changes were instituted by UMNO in many areas including economy, education and social, in order to strengthen Malay stronghold.

Seeing the changes in UMNO, Khatijah re-applied to join UMNO and was accepted in 1972. She was fifty-four and aging. She was not so active in politics as before. She later passed away in 1982 at age sixty-four.