MP submits bid for stronger action over racist, sexist remarks in Parliament

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto says Parliament should be civil and gender-friendly.

KUALA LUMPUR: Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto has submitted a proposal to Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Harun to amend the Standing Orders so that stronger action may be taken over offensive, racist and sexist remarks made in the lower house.

She proposed the addition of two clauses to Standing Order 36 to state that MPs who make sexist, racist or offensive statements be automatically referred to the Committee of Privileges and fined RM500 if found guilty by the committee.

She said she was proposing the amendments as the current provisions under 80(1) and 80A were too general and did not deter MPs from making such comments.

She added that there were numerous times where MPs had made offensive statements then retracted them and apologised insincerely.

Kasthuri Patto

“We have the Standing Orders which can define these unparliamentary words, but if there is no enforcement it means nothing.

“This is important and historical because we no longer want to see MPs coming out with offensive and unparliamentary comments, which also has an effect on society out there.

“We want to create a healthy and free environment where MPs are protected by the Standing Orders, with powers for enforcement. Also, so that we will have a civil and gender-friendly parliament,” she said in a press conference today.

Kasthuri also said it would be better for Azhar to carry this motion to the Standing Orders Committee as its chairman instead of making her submit a motion in the Dewan Rakyat.

She said it was the responsibility of the speaker to maintain the “ecosystem” of the house, adding that she did not want future MPs to suffer from being the target of offensive remarks.

“With this amendment, we can have more decorum. It gives authority not just to the speaker but the deputy speaker as well.

“I hope Perikatan Nasional MPs will take this opportunity to put aside their personal and party politics to support the motion we are bringing to the speaker,” she added.

She also said she had managed to speak to Bagan Datuk MP Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Kuala Nerus MP Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to inform them of the motion.

Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim sparked a shouting match in the Dewan Rakyat last week after saying Kasthuri was “dark” and could not be seen. He also asked her to “put on some powder”.

He apologised and retracted his remarks the next day after Azhar directed him to do so, although maintaining that he had no intention of insulting anyone by calling them dark, and that the area where Kasthuri sat was indeed dim.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.