The Aiyoh Wat Lah! Awards 2015 ceremony was held at the Sarang Paloh Event Hall, Ipoh on Sunday, May 10. This was the first show of its kind in Ipoh. Response by Ipohites was overwhelming, as some 170 packed into the hall leaving little breathing space.
The awards ceremony, initiated by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) and hosted by the irrepressible Ms Ribena Berry aka Ms Jo Kukathas, began in 2012 with all three previous shows held in Kuala Lumpur. Ms Ribena Berry, in her trademark sequin purple dress and shawl, kept the audience in stitches with her wit and antics.
The show was aimed at “raising awareness on what constitutes sexism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia in Malaysia and to encourage higher standards of behaviour from public figures and institutions in relation to gender and sexuality.”
Prior to the ceremony, 1391 respondents, both local and foreign, voted to pick the winning public statements, actions and policies in the various awards categories. The categories developed by JAG to represent areas in which sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia exist in public discourse are: “Foot in Mouth”, “Insulting Intelligence”, “Least Helpful to the Sisterhood”, “Cannot Ignore”, “Policy Fail”, “Enough Already” and “Right on Track”.
Ms Ivy Josiah of JAG and one of the initiators of the Aiyoh Wat Lah! Awards, told Ipoh Echo.
“We want the audience to understand that it’s okay to hold people accountable, especially public figures, who utter nonsensical and completely illogical statements. And we can call them out in ways that are funny, witty but serious.”
When asked on the one precious advice for the women facing issues of sexism, she replied, “I’ve two, one for women and one for men. My only advice to women is that to stand up and not to put up with it. For sexist men, stop it and have respect for women.”
The “Foot in Mouth” category was easily the most interesting, as it was the first in the line up. Deputy Home Minister Dato’ Seri Wan Juanidi Tuanku Jaafar’s proclamation that, “Non-Malays are less sensitive to the rape of teenage girls” got the highest number of votes defeating “You are a coward, you are a pondan” utterance by MP for Baling, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (Umno).
Meanwhile, in the “Right on Track” category, Justice Mohd Hisham’s decision in striking off a syariah court’s verdict on cross-dressing, thus acknowledging the rights of transgendered people, took top honours.
The show in Ipoh was made possible with the tacit support of the Perak Women for Women Society. Its president, Puan Halida Mohd Ali, made extra efforts to ensure that the show took off. “In spite of the many constraints, I am glad it’s a roaring success. Apparently, the Ipoh show was the most attended so far,” she exclaimed.
Penang will be next year’s venue.