Thursday, July 16, 2009

Many shades of good

Toni Kasim: A Tribute edited by Kua Kia Soong -- RM20.00

Zaitun Mohamed Kasim, better known as Toni Kasim, served the community on a broad range of issues for more than twenty years, fifteen of those years in Malaysia. She firmly believed in the principles of justice and equality for all, regardless of differences in gender, race, religion, sexualities, disabilities and access to wealth and resources.

Toni Kasim ran as the first independent women's parliamentary candidate in the 1999 General Elections on a gender platform. Instead of narrowing her advocacy to political party priorities, Toni Kasim raised issues that reverberated across communities and constituents, such as discriminatory laws, health issues, employment and wealth distribution.

A tireless leader, Toni Kasim devoted much of her life advancing the rights of diverse communities in Malaysia, and no one's reality was too marginal to be captured in her advocacy for collective justice. She was going to run for elections in 2008 when she had to be hospitalised. After months of battling cancer, she left us at the dawn of Wed 4 June, 2008, 5.30am, in her sister's arms. She was 41.

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