Mahadzir, Bung Moktar and Thong should apologise to Parliament on Monday for sexual harassment of two women DAP MPs or Tenth Parliament will go down in history as the most sexist Parliament despite having the most number of 20 women MPs


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The tenth Parliament had been hailed as having the most number of 20 women MPs - marking Malaysia moving in the direction of greater gender equality in the political process.

However, the tenth Parliament may go down in history as the most sexist Parliament despite having the most number of 20 women MPs if the Prime Minister and the government  political leadership continue to close their eyes to the sexual harassment of women DAP MPs by Barisan Nasional male MPs.

All the efforts of  the Human Resource Minister, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn  to promote the  Prevention of Sexual Harassment Code to prevent sexual harassment at workplaces would lose all credibility and come to nought if sexual harassment of women MPs in Parliament could be dismissed in a most  flippant and frivolous manner.

What  is the Womenís Affairs Department in the Prime Ministerís Department (Hawa) doing about the clear instances of sexual harassment of two DAP women MPs in Parliament during the Royal Address debate?

The sexual harassment of two women DAP MPs, Chong Eng (Bukit Mertajam) and Fong Poh Kuan (Batu Gajah) by  Barisan Nasional MPs by  Bung Moktar Radin (BN - Kinabatangan) and Thong Fah Cheng (BN - Ipoh Timor) through very offensive and sexist remarks during the recent Royal Address debate in Parliament is completely unacceptable by right-thinking Malaysians of all races, religions and political beliefs.

It is most regrettable that  there was no support by Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs, including women Ministers and MPs, for the DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock when he had sought to censure  both the two Barisan Nasional MPs by referring them  to the Committee of Privileges in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday 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 personÖ 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."

What I find even more shocking is that the sexual harrassment of Chong Eng and Fong by Bung Mohtar and Thong through sexist remarks could get open support and defence by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Dr Mahadzir Mohd Khir, making the former academician a third of the trio guilty of the sexual harassment of the two women DAP MPs.

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 a MP to give way, which is always by using the term  "minta jalan".

I am sure that neither Bung, Thong or Mahadzir would use these terms to ask the Minister for International Trade and Industry  Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz,  Social Welfare Minister  Siti Zaharah Suleiman, Deputy Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Deputy Minister for Culture, Youth and Tourism Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen or any Barisan Nasional woman MP as an attempt to ask them to give way during their speeches!

Or would Rafidah, Zaharah, Shahrizat and Ng declare that they would be very happy if male Barisan Nasional MPs use the  terms of either "Boleh masuk sedikitkah?" and "Beri masuk sikitlah" as a means to ask them to give way during their speeches in Parliament?

If women Barisan Nasional women Ministers and MPs are not prepared to accept these terms, because of their  sexist connotations and constitute sexual harassment, then the Speaker should have declared these terms as unparliamentary because they tantamout to sexual harassment when used against women MPs and Ministers in these circumstances and banned from the parliamentary lexicon in such a context.

Parliamentís esteem, honour and credibility are at stake  and the tenth Parliament will  go down in history as the most sexist Parliament despite having the most number of 20 women MPs if there are no proper amends to the sexual harassment of the two women DAP MPs by Bung Moktar, Thong and Mahadzir.

To redeem the name of Parliament, Bung Moktar, Thong and Mahadzir  should make a personal statement when the Dewan Rakyat resumes on Monday to unreservedly apologise  for the sexist remarks and sexual harassment of Chong Eng and Fong (in Mahazirís case, for supporting such sexist remarks and sexual harassment), withdraw the terms and undertake that they would not repeat any other form of sexual harassments against women MPs for the rest of the Parliamentary term.

(26/2/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman