Women’s rights group urges sanction against Baling MP for racist, sexist remarks in Parliament

JAG urged further action against Abdul Azeez for his remarks against Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto in Parliament yesterday. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
JAG urged further action against Abdul Azeez for his remarks against Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto in Parliament yesterday. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) has urged further disciplinary action to be pursued against Umno Baling MP Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim for alleged racist, colourist and sexist remarks against Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto in Parliament.

In a joint statement, the women’s rights coalition said Parliament must not allow any semblance of racism, colourism and sexism in its proceedings.

“A mere retraction of such statements does not address how such remarks continue to shape a negative perception and attitude towards female MPs.

“To treat these with impunity is to betray our votes,” the statement read.

It added that this is not the first time JAG has observed personal attacks against women MPs made by male MPs that are rooted in much larger issues such as sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, gender inequality, as well as ageism.

The statement also pointed out that the duty of MPs is to debate national issues and to safeguard the interests of the rakyat in the course of these debates.

“When a male MP makes personal attacks against a woman MP, explicitly or implicitly, and gets away with it in Parliament, it sends a very loud message that Parliament accepts the bad behaviour of male MPs with impunity,” the statement added.  

Yesterday, on the first day of a full Parliament sitting this year, Abdul Azeez’s remarks sparked an uproar among the Opposition MPs.

In his defence, Azeez insisted that the remark, gelap tak nampak or “so dark cannot see” was not directed at Kasthuriraani or any other MPs.

Kasthuriraani demanded that Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun make a ruling in accordance with Standing Order 36 (4) which states “it shall be out of order for a member of the House to use offensive language or make a sexist remark”.

However, Azhar did not make a ruling on the issue concerning Azeez after the latter apologised and retracted the remark.

JAG’s joint statement was undersigned by 13 groups including Association of Women Lawyers, All Women’s Action Society KRYSS Network, EMPOWER, Sisters in Islam, Tenaganita and the Women’s Aid Organisation.

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