Yesterday, Ng urged Malaysians including elected representatives, to learn from the sexual harassment controversy in the Dewan Rakyat and that the allegations should be a lesson to all on the importance of gender sensitivity.
She said: "It is good that the issue has been highlighted by the press as from now on, people would be more cautious in their remarks".
She is right when she said that the incident also highlighted the difficulties of proving sexual harassment, a problem faced by women, with the two Barisan Nasional MPs, Bung Moktar Radin (BN - Kinabatangan) and Thong Fah Cheng (BN - Ipoh Timor) who had made the sexist remarks against DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng and DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan either denying that they had made the sexist remarks or disputing that the remarks tantamout to sexual harassment.
This is why the proper action to be taken is for both Bung Moktar and Thong to be referred to the Committee of Privileges to redeem the honour and dignity of Parliament to ensure that there can be no sexual harassment in the highest political and legislative chamber in the land.
She said: "Men see sexual harassment in a different context and this is why the issue needs more debate and discussion".
It is unfortunate that the other Barisan Nasional Parliamentarians, especially the women MPs like the MCA MP for Klang, Dr. Tan Yee Kew, are not prepared to take a clear-cut stand against sexual harassment in Parliament but prefer to look for excuses for Moktar and Thong.
As the Kelantan Mentri Besar, Nik Aziz Nik Mat said during the question-and-answer session at the second DAP inter-political, inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last night, the sexist remarks and sexual harassment by Bung Mohtar and Thong are "biadap" or "uncouth" behaviour - and there could be no two ways about it.
Those who try to look for excuses to explain away the sexual harassment of Chong Eng and Fong are in fact aiding and abetting Bung Mohtar and Thong’s act of sexual harassment and must be deplored.
Nik Aziz and and the Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar, Haji Abdul Halim bin Abdul Rahman are to be commended for appending their signatures last night to support the Signature Campaign to protest against sexual harassment in Parliament and to demand an end to sexist remarks against women MPs to uphold gender dignity and sensitivity.
I do not know when there will be a Barisan Nasional Minister or Parliamentarian who will be prepared to put aside party and political interests to put his or her signature to support such a campaign against sexual harassment in Parliament, but this will be a litmus test as to whether the country can make any meaningful headway in the nation-wide campaign to protect women from sexual harassment.
So long as sexual harrassment in Parliament is not accorded serious attention by the authorities, women in Malaysia cannot expect the government to be serious about enforcing the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
This is why the statement by the Minister for Human Resources, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn is so disappointing when he said two days ago that the Code Against Sexual Harassment does not apply in Parliament as MPs have the Parliamentary Standing Orders to govern their behaviour.
The Parliamentary Standing Orders were drafted at a time when there was no awareness whatsoever about the problem of sexual harassment, and the least Fong should have said is to call for the Parliamentary Standing Orders to be reviewed and amended to incorporate both the spirit and provisions of the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
The ugly incident of sexist remarks and sexual harassment of the two women DAP MPs has an importance going beyond the gender dignity and sensitivity of Chong Eng and Fong Po Kuan. If women MPs can be sexually harassed in Parliament with no protection or protest from the Ministers and Parliamentarians, how can the government protect sexual harassment in workplaces, whether there is a Code or otherwise.