KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — After a chaotic parliamentary session yesterday marred by purported sexist and racist remarks, Barisan Nasional (BN) leader Khairy Jamaluddin said the coalition will work on improving the manner by which it approaches debates in the Dewan Rakyat.

The science, technology and innovation minister said that a spirited debate is expected in the House, but lawmakers must know when to draw the line between what is appropriate and what is considered discrimination.

“We have to work on our debate culture in Parliament,” he tweeted in Malay today.

“Parliamentary debate has always been robust, but we must distinguish between witty and acerbic repartee with racist/sexist/ageist statements. BN will be having internal discussions on how we can do better,” said the Rembau MP.



His comments came after Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim made remarks seen as sexist and racist yesterday in apparent reference to Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto.


Azeez, himself of Indian Muslim descent, reportedly said that he could not see her because “gelap sangat” (very dark) and went on to suggest that Kasthuriraani powder her face.

The remark caused Jelutong MP RSN Rayer to stand up and demand that Azeez offer a retraction, before the exchange devolved into a shouting match.

Newly-minted Parliament speaker Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun then instructed Abdul Azeez to apologise and retract his remarks, which he eventually did after claiming he was commenting on the Dewan Rakyat’s dim lightning and not the rival MP when he said “gelap”.

Azhar, failing to quell the chaos, later resorted to adjourning the sitting.