KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — Many were shocked earlier this week by an Umno MP’s controversial remarks on rapists marrying their victims, but lawmakers in Parliament have long been making remarks that range from insensitive and tactless to crude and downright bizarre.
While Parliament is a place for serious business where elected representatives deliberate on new laws, sexist and derogatory remarks have often been used by lawmakers during heated debates.
Here is a list of selected occasions when MPs made remarks that provoked outrage and raised eyebrows among Malaysians:
Umno’s Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin infamously alluded to a woman’s menstrual cycle when commenting on a leaky ceiling in Parliament, using “bocor” or leak to describe the monthly periods.
“Where is the leak? Batu Gajah MP also leaks every month,” he said, referring to female DAP lawmaker Fong Po Kuan.
He was reported making an apology about ten days later and begging forgiveness from women nationwide if they felt insulted, while a fellow lawmaker who had made a similar remark also apologised.
In a heated exchange with the late DAP MP Karpal Singh who had called him a “bigfoot from Kinabatangan”, Bung Mokhtar challenged the wheelchair-bound lawmaker to “Stand if you dare” and also called him a “big monkey”.
This prompted 30 wheelchair-bound Malaysians to show up at Parliament and protest the remarks that were deemed “discriminatory” of the disabled.
Umno’s Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, who later on November 4 the same year was told to retract his alleged racial slur of “balik tongsan”, caused an uproar when he mentioned the infamous “bocor” word.
After being reprimanded under the Dewan Rakyat’s rules under Standing Order 36(4), he retracted his comments but insisted that he did not intend to insult women. He had claimed that he was not referring to women’s monthly menstruation cycles, but was referring to leaky pipes when commenting on women visiting mosques.
Standing Order 36(4) was amended on November 27, 2012 after multiple occasions of sexist remarks by MPs over the years and now states: “It shall be out of order for Members of the House to use offensive language or make a sexist remark.”
Several lawmakers called for Shariah-compliant sports attire as they felt some of the outfits were too sexy, with PKR’s Lumut MP First Admiral (right) Mohamad Imran Abdul Hamid voicing his concern over the allegedly skimpy attire.
He claimed that such “sexy clothing” could lead to “zina” or illicit sex, but Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said there has yet to be proof of adultery occurring at mass sporting events.
PAS Pasir Puteh MP Datuk Nik Mazlan Nik Mohamad, in responding to a call for Malaysia to increase the legal marrying age from 16 in some instances, said that stopping child marriages would not stop premarital sex.
“Nowadays, kids under the age of 16 are already having sex and already have open sexual relationships.
“If we prevent them from getting married, these urges are still there, so they will be exposed to have sex freely and outside of marriage,” he had said.
He is the same lawmaker who on March 17, 2017 suggested the introduction of caning for illicit sex to protect innocent babies born from unlawful unions.
Umno’s Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who is also a deputy minister, was responding to other lawmakers’ comments on peaceful rallies when he abruptly singled out DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok for allegedly giggling. Kok was not making any comments at that time.
“This Yang Berhormat Seputeh kek, kek, kek, kek for what? The only woman with a ‘kok’ is in Seputeh,” Tajuddin said, sparking outrage from other lawmakers who demanded him to retract his allegedly vulgar remark deemed “sexist”.
While no action was taken against him then, minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said the next day reminded MPs that they should not make personal attacks against fellow lawmakers. She also said the Standing Orders disallow MPs from using impolite, sexist or malicious words.