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Never felt more mortified in
my 33 years as elected MP when the Dewan Negara – “rubbish-bin for political
has-beens, rejects and deadwoods”- could scorn and mock Dewan Rakyat all
because of another disgusting and unpunished exhibition of crude, vulgar,
sexist and offensive “male chauvinism” by BN MPs
(Parliament, Tuesday) : I have never felt so insulted and humiliated as an elected Member of Parliament for 33 years when the Dewan Rakyat became the subject of scorn and ridicule by the Dewan Negara yesterday because of two reasons:
I had in the past described the Dewan Negara as a "rubbish-bin for political has-beens, rejects and deadwoods" and I am mightily mortified that the Dewan Rakyat has given the Dewan Negara the opportunity and justification to “rubbish” the elected chamber.
During question time in the Dewan Negara yesterday, Senator Datuk Yip Kum Fook wanted to know what measures were put in place to ensure women had a conducive working environment at the working place, adding: “Take, for example, the Dewan Rakyat, where prejudicial and sexist statements are being made at women MPs. Is this not setting a bad example?”
I feel awfully ashamed and I can speak for all the DAP MPs that we feel terribly humiliated, but have the BN MPs - who had thumped the table in glee and celebration when Po Kuan’s motion to refer the two sexist BN MPs to the Committee Privileges was rejected –any sense of shame?
The 2004 general election had elected a record 91% of MPs from the BN but they had brought the greatest shame and dishonour to the elected legislature – to the extent that even the “rubbish-bin for political has-beens, rejects and deadwoods” could laugh and mock at the Dewan Rakyat. I never thought that I would ever see such a shameful day for the Dewan Rakyat!
I notice that some BN Ministers and MPs are speaking up as a result of escalating public disgust at the latest exhibition of sexist and offensive male chauvinism by BN MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, which had been condoned by BN Ministers and MPs, both men and women!
Things would not have reached this sorry stage today, with the Dewan Negara publicly castigating the Dewan Rakyat, if BN Ministers and MPs had stood up in support and solidarity with Po Kuan in the Dewan Rakyat last Wednesday and Thursday. They had all the time and opportunities to do so, as there were three separate occasions spanning over 24 hours for them to take a stand, but instead they ducked and ran for cover on all the three occasions failing at the most critical times to show their commitment to principle and courage of conviction.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has expressed her “deep displeasure” over the remarks by the two sexist BN MPs, saying that she will bring it up in Cabinet to see whether it is possible to amend the Standing Orders to include that language used in Parliament must be gender-sensitive. She said: “I see this happening over and over, and its getting worse.”
With the greatest respect, the problem is not with the Standing Orders and Shahrizat should not deflect attention with the real issues. The real problem lies with the Barisan Nasional mindset whether Cabinet Ministers or MPs!
When Barisan Nasional MPs could thump their table in glee and celebration that Po Kuan’s motion to refer the two sexist BN MPs to the Committee of Privileges had been rejected, the message is very clear – the problem does not lie with Standing Orders but with the gender bias and prejudices of BN MPs.
When Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak could say that the crude, sexist and offensive remarks were “not supposed to be taken seriously” and should be taken “with a sense of humour”, and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz could trivialise the remarks as “play with words” and “part and parcel of parliamentary debate”, no stronger proof is needed that the problem is not with Standing Orders but the utter lack of gender sensitivity of the entire BN leadership.
Shahrizat should go to the Cabinet to educate the Cabinet, in particular Najib and Nazri, about the meaning of gender-sensitivity. In fact, the entire Cabinet should be sent for an intensive gender-sensitisation course so that Ministers will set a good example to all BN MPs and leaders.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman