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Malaysia's lockdown tips for women: Use make-up, speak like Doraemon

M'sian ministry advises women to 'avoid nagging' spouse and to imitate tiny voice of cartoon character

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear make-up, not to nag their husbands, giggle coyly and to speak with a cartoon character's soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online.

Like many countries, it has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of the virus.

Malaysia reported 140 new Covid-19 cases and six more deaths, bringing the total number infected to 2,766 and the death toll to 43.

In a series of Facebook posts, the Malaysian women's ministry offered tips for how wives should behave during the lockdown.

One showed a picture of a couple hanging up clothes together next to a caption that advised women to "avoid nagging" their husbands, and to imitate the squeaky voice of Doraemon, a cartoon robot cat from Japan that is popular across Asia.

The post was removed yesterday afternoon following a flood of criticism, with many accusing the government of sexism.

Other posts advised women working at home to wear make-up and dress neatly, rather than in casual clothes.

"This must be a pressing issue," said one Facebook post.

"How will dressing up and putting on make-up at home (prevent) covid-19? Pray, tell?"

"It's already 2020, please progress. Focus on more important matters for women," read another.

Ms Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at All Women's Action Society, a Malaysian advocacy group, said the post is extremely condescending both to women and men.

"These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy," she said.

In a separate development, Indonesian leader Joko Widodo declared a state of emergency yesterday as coronavirus deaths in the world's fourth most populous country jumped again, but he resisted calls for a nationwide lockdown.

Mr Widodo's administration has been heavily criticised for not imposing lockdowns in major cities, including the capital Jakarta, a vast megalopolis home to about 30 million people where most of the country's virus deaths have been reported.

SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

Mr Widodo offered few details of the state of emergency beyond calling for stricter social distancing, but announced US$1.5 billion (S$2.1 billion) in beefed-up social assistance and subsidies for low-income workers.

"To overcome the impact of Covid-19, we've chosen the option of large-scale social distancing," he told reporters.

"We must learn from the experience in other countries, but we cannot copy them because every country has its own characteristics," he added.

Yesterday, authorities said 136 people had died after contracting the virus, with 1,528 confirmed cases of infection.

But the latter figure is widely thought to be well below the real number in the archipelago of more than 260 million.

The Philippines reported its largest daily increase in deaths and infections yesterday, as it ramped up testing with the arrival of thousands of kits from abroad and the opening of new laboratories.

Ten more deaths took the toll to 88, while the tally of infections rose to 2,084, with 538 additional cases, said a health ministry official.

The ministry has opened new labs and run more than 15,000 tests, a five-fold jump from about 3,000 last week, she said, adding that more hospitals were seeking government approval to function as testing centres. - AFP, REUTERS

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