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Shahrir is losing his critical faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong when he has the heart to criticize Po Kuan, victim again of parliamentary “male chauvinist” attacks, but does not have the nerve to castigate the two sexist BN MPs for their abominable conduct


Media Statement        
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Ipoh, Saturday) : Public Accounts Committee Chairman and Barisan Nasional (BN) MP for Johor Baru, Datuk Shahrir Samad is losing his critical faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong when he has the heart to criticize the DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan, the victim again of parliamentary “male chauvinist” attacks, but does not have the nerve to castigate the two sexist BN MPs, Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (Jasin) and Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (Kinabatangan), for their abominable conduct. 

I do not know what Shahrir meant when he said yesterday that the opposition “went overboard” when it tried to refer the two errant MPs to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee for their breach of privilege bringing shame and dishonour to Parliament and Malaysian women, just a few days before Mother’s Day. 

Shahrir said the matter could have been settled within the confines of the Dewan Rakyat if Po Kuan had declared her hurt and asked for an apology. 

For Shahrir’s information, Po Kuan was acting completely “within the confines of the Dewan Rakyat” when she invoked Standing Order 26(1)(p) to table a privilege motion to refer to two sexist BN MPs to the committee of privileges. 

Also for Shahrir’s information, Po Kuan did declare her hurt and she and other DAP MPs had asked for apology from both Mohd Said and Bung Moktar, but both were defiant and recalcitrant, not only refusing to acknowledge their transgressions, but sought to defend and justify their “male chauvinist” behaviour and thereby compounding their offensive conduct towards Po Kuan and Malaysian women. 

What is even more deplorable, all the BN MPs in the Chambers thumped their table in glee and celebration when Po Kuan’s motion was rejected by the Speaker – demonstrating that they were in full support and solidarity with the actions of the two sexist BN MPs! 

Unlike Shahrir, several women leaders like All-Women’s Action Society president Judith Koh-Loh, Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah, Sisters-in-Islam programme manager Zaitun Kasim and Bar Council chairman Ambiga Sreenivasan spoke sense, truth and justice when they slammed Mohd Said and Bung Moktar for their “male chauvinist” behaviour in the Star report today. 

But it is not only the two sexist BN MPs who need re-education about gender sensitivity, Shahrir and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz, must also undergo a period of “rehabilitation” which a commentator on my blog had proposed would be proper treatment for the two errant BN MPs. 

I am shocked that Nazri had tried to minimize and even trivialize the issue by explaining it way as a  “play with words” and “part and parcel of parliamentary debate”.   

Let Nazri be reminded that “play with words” and “part and parcel of parliamentary debate” are no good defence whatsoever for defamation or gratuitous insult of an individual, organization or community, or sedition in Parliament, and MPs must be prepared to face the full consequences for such parliamentary breach of privilege whether before the Parliamentary Privileges Committee or the court of law in the case of sedition with regard to entrenched sensitive issues in the Constitution. 

I cannot but wonder whether  Shahir and Nazri really understand what the women leaders are saying in their condemnation of the crude, vulgar, sexist and offensive conduct of the two BN MPs, for instance: 

  • Judith Koh-Loh statement that “The fact that the  august body allowed a ‘joke’ to be made about the function of the female body, without any sanction, marks another low point in the history of parliamentary debates”;
  • Ivy Josiah’s comment: “There is a difference between a joke and a demeaning remark. Because of the poor understanding of sexual harassment, the remarks are dismissed”;
  • Zaitun Kasim’s statement that the remarks by the two sexist BN MPs were “completely offensive”; and
  • Ambiga Sreenevasan’s call that parliamentarians should lead the way in being gender sensitive.

Shahrir and Nazri have shown that apart from Mohd Said and Bung Mohtar, they are also both gender-insensitive and they should apologise for such gender-insensitivity within the next 24 hours, so that the meaning of Mother’s Day tomorrow will not be further desecrated with Shahrir and Nazri’s support and solidarity with Mohd Said and Bung Mohtar in their unacceptable exhibition of “male chauvinism”. 

The press have played an exemplary role in exposing the “male chauvinism” and unparliamentary conduct of the two sexist BN MPs in Parliament on Wednesday. This was because none of the DAP MPs had heard their crude, vulgar, sexist and offensive remarks in the  din and pandemonium in the Chamber when DAP MPs were highlighting the issue of Parliament leaking after a RM100 million renovation work.

Sin Chew Daily, China Press and Utusan Malaysia deserve commendation for reporting what these two sexist BN MPs had said, as it concerned not only the honour and dignity of Po Kuan, but all Malaysian women.

It is pathetic that BN MPs, especially BN women MPs, do not have a similar sense of justice and righteousness to stand up in Parliament to denounce the two sexist BN MPs and dissociate themselves from their “male chauvinism”. Instead, one woman BN MP quickly scurried out of the Chambers when Po Kuan stood up on Thursday to demand that the two sexist BN MPs should be referred to the Committee of Privileges.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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