Current Affairs, National

Time to put an end to sexist and racist attacks in the Dewan Rakyat.

Baling MP, Azeez Abdul Rahim is known for his sexist and racist remarks over the years.

On Monday 20 July 2020, I had met with the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Datuk Azhar to propose 2 amendments to the Standing Order to enforce stricter penalties upon MPs who utter sexist, racist and offensive remarks in Parliament. 

This is in line with the incident that happened in the Dewan Rakyat when the MP for Baling used sexist and racist remarks against me in the August House. He was instructed, the next day, by the Speaker to retract and apologise but the apology was a half-baked one and insincere to say the least. 

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto was the victim of racist and sexist remarks in Parliament.

I fear this won’t be the last of the likes of uncouth MPs like Azeez Abdul Rahim in the Dewan Rakyat as his previous records will show he is an unrepentant, repeat offender.  The amendments are as follows:-

Standing Order 36(13) 36(13) “Any member who utters any sexist, racist or other offensive expression to cause any another member or any segment of the population in Malaysia to be demeaned or hated, in violation of paragraphs (4) or (10) shall be automatically referred to the Committee of Privileges for an inquiry.” and 36(14) “Any member found by the Committee of Privileges in the inquiry stipulated by paragraph (13) to have intentionally or knowingly violated paragraphs (4) or (10) is to be punished with a fine of not less than RM 500 for a violation of Section 9(c) of the House of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952.”

How will Azhar Harun respond to Patto’s amendment to the standing order?

The ball is now in the Speakers court as he, as Chairperson for the Committee for Standing Orders and the Committee for Privileges can exert his power to call for a meeting to discuss this proposal. 

This amendment will definitely go a long way to protect not only the sanctity of the Dewan Rakyat but also MPs, especially female MPs, including me who have been subjected to all sorts of insults and abuses in the August House. 

It will also deem that the Parliament is gender-friendly and function to its maximum capacity as a civil Parliament.

With young, smart, courageous and able female and male young leaders as we have seen in Parlimen Digital, who will become future MPs in our Malaysian Parliament, this amendment will protect them and create a new culture of debating with respect, decorum and with facts in the Dewan Rakyat. 

Digital Parliament proved that a new culture of debating with respect is possible.

I hope that MPs from both sides of the divide will commit to this amendment so that ALL MPs be protected under the Standing Orders of the House.  Creating a world-class Parliament begins with what I, as a backbencher, can offer to my Parliament. 

Kasthuri Patto

MP for Batu Kawan

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