Prime Minister Mahathir should  demand that  Bung Mohtar and Thong  tender public apology to Chong Eng and Fong  and be given  final warning of suspension from Barisan Nasional and the Dewan Rakyat if they repeat the  offensive sexist remarks against  women MPs

Media Conference Statement
-  after officiating the opening of the DAP Kuala Terengganu Service Centre 
and the protem formation of four new  branches in Terengganu
Lim Kit Siang

(Kuala Terengganu, Friday): Yesterday, in Kelantan, the DAP approved the formation of four branches, namely Kota Bahru, Kota Lama, Kg. China and Pulai and we are in the process of establishing two other branches in the state in Pasir Mas and Gua Musang.

Today, we have approved the protem establishment of four new  branches in Terengganu apart from Kuala Terenggtanu, namely Kemaman, Paka in Dungun, Wakaf Tapai in Maran and  Sg. Tong in Setiu.

I wish to refer specifically to the highly offensive and sexist remarks by two Barisan Nasional MPs, Bung Moktar Radin (BN - Kinabatangan) and Thong Fah Cheng (BN - Ipoh Timor) directed at two women DAP MPs, Chong Eng (Bukit Mertajam) and Fong Poh Kuan (Batu Gajah) during the Royal Address debate in Parliament.

DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock had sought to censure  both the two Barisan Nasional MPs by referring them  to the Committee of Privileges in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday for the sexist remarks which degrade not only women MPs and women in general but the dignity and honour  of Parliament as well.

The attempts by the two Barisan MPs to deny and explain away their sexist remarks are most lame and insulting to the intelligence of other MPs as well as the Malaysian people.

During the Royal Address debate, the two Barisan Nasional MPs had interrupted and insulted  Chong and Fong under the guise of asking the two DAP women MPs to give way during their speeches by using the terms "Boleh masuk sedikitkah?" and "Beri masuk sikitlah".

Bung Mohtar had the cheek later to say: "It all depends on the person… if he has that kind of mentality, then he will regard what I have said as sexist. But one had to understand that is our style of talking."

This is completely untrue.  In my 30 years in Parliament, I had never heard an MP using terms of either "Boleh masuk sedikitkah" and "Beri masuk sikitlah" to ask an MP to give way.  I challenge both Bung Mohtar and Thong to comb through the parliamentary Hansard for over 40 years to produce one single instance where an MP had cheekily asked a woman MP "Boleh masuk sidikikah" or "Beri masuk sikitlah" as a way of intervening in a debate.

Would either one of them dared to use these terms to ask the Minister for International Trade and Industry  Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz or Social Welfare Minister  Siti Zaharah or any Barisan Nasional woman MP as an attempt to ask them to give way during their speeches?

The refusal of Bung Moktar and Thong to immediately apologize for their sexist remarks against the two women DAP MPs, and their even more offensive way to justify their usage, has compounded their offence against womenhood - at a most sensitive time when the International Women Day is less than a fortnight away.

I am very disappointed that Barisan Nasional women MPs did not stand up and support  Chong Eng and Fong on gender dignity on this issue.

Parliament and the country cannot take Bung Moktar and Thong's offensive sexist remarks lightly.

I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to call up both Bung Moktar and Thong and demand that they publicly apologize to Chong Eng and Fong and to  give them a final warning of suspension from Barisan Nasional and Dewan Rakyat if they persist in their sexist remarks against women against  women MPs.

If the Prime Minister is not prepared to intervene to uphold and protect women dignity in Parliament, then Malaysians must  consider launching a nation-wide signature campaign to deplore not only Bung Moktar and Thong's sexists remarks against the two DAP women MPs, but for the failures of the tenth Parliament and the political leadership of these two MPs to protect women honour and dignity.

May be the best theme for International Women Day in Malaysia should be to demand gender honour, dignity and respect from Barisan Nasional MPs and Ministers.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman