PETALING JAYA: Umno MP Bung Moktar Radin’s defence of hotel employees’ right to wear headscarves would have carried more weight if it wasn’t accompanied by a sexist remark, female opposition MPs said.
Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said Bung’s remark about women’s looks and nudity uttered in the Dewan Rakyat today were “abhorrent and vile”, especially as it came from a member of the house.
Saying Bung had taken the objectification of women to an “entirely new level”, Nurul Izzah called for an immediate gender-sensitive briefing for MPs
This, she said, was important to address the mentality of many MPs who lacked basic understanding on preserving the dignity of women.
“The speaker must take action and not let such acts to go on.
“I believe such remarks encourage the objectification of women,” she said.
This is especially so “in the eyes of aspiring young men who continue to look up to MPs for inspiration”, said Nurul Izzah.
Bung, the MP for Kinabatangan, was reported as saying that a “beautiful woman” would still look attractive even if she wears a headscarf.
“Even if she is not pretty, if she is naked (telanjang), who wouldn’t want (her)?”
He said this while responding to a move by certain hotels to ban their female staff, particularly those on the front desk, from wearing headscarves.
Nurul Izzah, who is also PKR vice-president, however pointed to the main issue at hand, which is the necessity to look into existing and prevalent discriminatory practices.
“The principle of decoupling beauty from religious garb is valid, just that his phrasing betrays a deeper problem with crude language which is disparaging towards women.”
She said hotel and airline policies openly and officially objectify women in professions where they have to deal directly with customers.
But beauty in customer service, Nurul Izzah added, lies in the treatment of customers, attitude and responsiveness.
“Not superficial traits. The sooner Malaysian businesses realise this, the faster we can grow in hospitality and tourism.
“Anyone who has checked into a hotel knows a so-called beauty who gives you the wrong room or delays your trip is not loved compared with another who takes good care of your stay.”
DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said while Bung’s defence of headscarf-wearing women in the hotel industry was “great”, there was no need for him to insert comments about looks and nudity in the same breath.
“Something is wrong in the mind of Bung. He never fails to make nonsensical and sexist remarks on women in Parliament.
“This kind of remark is derogatory to women and is really uncalled for.
“No one will remember his defence of women donning headscarves. Everyone will remember how he belittled women who wear one,” she said to FMT.
PKR’s Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin said Bung has to be more polished and refined in his manners and thoughts.
His analogies, she said, were always out of place.
“But sad to say such tendencies are synonymous with him and create negative perceptions of him being sexist.
“It is unbecoming of an experienced MP.”