PETALING JAYA: The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) condemned the remark made by Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim against Kasthuri Patto (pic) about her skin colour, and urged for further disciplinary action against him.
“Members of Parliament interrupt each other regularly and this is always acceptable if done within civilised and regulatory bounds.
“Abdul Azeez was and is at all times free to disagree with Kasthuri’s views.
“However, Abdul Azeez made what could be described as deplorable personal attacks against Kasthuri, suggesting that she cannot be seen because of her skin colour, and that she should apply powder in order to be visible, ” JAG said in a statement on Tuesday (July 14).
The Batu Kawan MP had questioned in Monday’s Dewan Rakyat sitting why there were no women included in the Select Committee.
Abdul Azeez, who is Baling MP, had then said ‘Tak nampaklah, gelap (It is dark, I cannot see)’, and ‘I am also dark. So wear powder. What is the problem?’ after an uproar by Opposition MPs.
During Tuesday’s sitting, Abdul Azeez apologised and retracted his remarks, after being ordered by Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun to do so.
JAG said lawmakers were to discuss issues brought up by other MPs and to protect the interests of the rakyat in such debates.
“When a male MP makes personal attacks against a woman MP, explicitly or implicitly, and gets away with it in Parliament, it sends a very loud message that Parliament accepts the bad behaviour of male MPs with impunity.
“This is not the first time that JAG has observed personal attacks against women MPs made by male MPs that are rooted in much larger issues such as sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, gender inequality, as well as ageism.
“A mere retraction of such statements does not address how such remarks continue to shape a negative perception and attitude towards female MPs, ” it said.
It called for further disciplinary action to be pursued against Abdul Azeez as his remarks were not only personally offensive towards Kasthuri, but towards all Malaysians.
“Malaysians are constantly told to tread delicately around the issue of racism. We witnessed firsthand its unfortunate offshoot, colourism, rearing its ugly head.
“The remarks are a slap in the face for all Malaysians who believe in equality of persons regardless of race, colour, age or gender.
“Parliament must not allow any semblance of racism, colourism and sexism in its proceedings. To treat these with impunity is to betray our vote, ” it said.
The statement was endorsed by 13 JAG member organisations.