Thong stood up in Parliament yesterday and said that he had the approval of the Speaker, Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail to delete from Hansard the words "minta masuk sedikit" allegedly uttered by him after listening to the tape recordings of previous Monday’s proceedings.
Thong said: "The words were there but they were not said by me."
Zahir said: "The recording has so many voices and sounds."
Thong is trying to wriggle out of the situation through a technical loophole, which is most irresponsible.
Although Thong’s voice does not come over the Parliamentary tape-recording, this does not mean he had not made the sexist remark and guilty of sexual harassment in Parliament.
In the final analysis, the question is not whether Thong’s sexist remark had been recorded on tape, but whether he had made the remark.
Thong is the best person to know whether he had made it. He had in fact publicly admitted more than once that he had made the remark but argued that there was nothing wrong with it. How can Thong now fall back on the failure of the parliamentary tape-recording to deny that he had made the sexist remark?
For instance, when reporting on the parliamentary uproar in the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday when DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock had wanted to refer both Bung Moktar and Thong to the Committee of Privileges for their sexist remarks and sexual harassment of Chong Eng and Fong, The Star (Friday, 25.2.2000) said:
"Both Thong and Bung Moktar, when approached at the lobby, said they meant no harm and that the phrase was commonly used in Sabah".
Thong also confirmed that he had made the remark to Malay Mail, which in its article "Across The Floor" (25.2.2000) reported Thong as refusing to apologise for the remarks as "I didn’t do anything wrong". The Malay Mail reported:
"He (Thong) explained away his utterance to his years in Sabah and Indonesia running the family business when he picked up the Bahasa Malaysia speech style there."
In the Malay Malay article, Bung Moktar confirmed that it was Thong who was the first to use the sexist language, when it quoted Bung Moktar as asking:
"How come they are picking on me? I was not the first to utter the words. The Ipoh Timur MP was the first to utter the words on Monday’s sitting. In fact, even the PAS members laughed when the words were uttered."
Again, in the Sunday Star (27.2.2000) article on the sexual harassment of the two women DAP MPs entitled "’Mind your words, honourable ones’", Thong again confirmed but defended his sexist remark. The article said:
"Thong said he picked up the colloquial phrase during a 10-year working experience in Sabah."
Thong is only adding another charge of being very dishonest if he now denies that he had made the sexist remark, solely on the ground that he was very lucky that the parliamentary tape recording had not picked up his voice in the melee, when he had himself publicly admitted more than once of having made the remark - and witnessed by Bung Moktar.
MCA MP for Ipoh Timur Thong Fah Chong should be "man enough" to apologise for his sexist remark and sexual harassment in Parliament instead of trying to wriggle out of the situation through a technical point over Parliamentary tape-recording.
With his sexist remark and sexual harassment in Parliament, Thong had brought Parliament into great disrepute. He has also shamed the voters of Ipoh Timur who had voted him into Parliament.
He should end the Parliamentary scandal by openly admitting his wrong, apologise to Fong Po Kuan, Chong Eng, Parliament and the voters of Ipoh Timur and undertake never to be guilty of sexual harassment in Parliament again.