COLOURISM is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, and it is a component of racism. There is no place for colourism or treating people differently based on their skin colour in a multiracial nation like Malaysia.
Soroptimist International Region of Malaysia (Sirom) is appalled by the remarks made by Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim at Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto about the colour of her skin in Parliament on July 13.
Being discriminated based on the colour of one’s skin is extremely damaging to one’s self-worth. It has serious mental and emotional effects that can last for generations.
Recent world events have shown how racism can turn destructive very quickly. This is especially relevant today when the “Black Lives Matter” campaign has gained momentum and forced many countries to re-evaluate their policies and laws.
Regrettably, such sexist and divisive comments are not alien in our Parliamentary proceedings. The behaviour of the MPs uttering these comments must not be tolerated nor dismissed as harmless.
Women MPs must be empowered to champion their cause and uphold their community’s values without fear of being belittled by caustic personal or sexist attacks.
As leaders of their constituents, all MPs should be subject to a higher standard of decorum and propriety, and the Baling MP ought to be penalised. A retraction and apology are simply not enough.
To move Malaysia forward, we urge all MPs to practise mutual respect and tolerance in our multiracial nation.
AGNES TAN , President 2019-2021 Soroptimist International Region of Malaysia
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