Malaysia bans sexist remarks in parliament

Malaysian lawmakers today approved a ban on sexist remarks in parliament after a number of cases in which male MPs in the mostly Muslim country have drawn anger with their comments on the floor.

The amendment to the rules of conduct in the Dewan Rakyat, or lower house of parliament, bars lawmakers from making "a sexist remark", opposition lawmaker Fong Po Kuan told AFP, with violators facing a reprimand or even suspension.

"It's good that it's provided expressly now so all Mps take it seriously," she said. "It's unacceptable. No circumstances can justify sexist comments."

Several Malaysian MPs have sparked controversy in the past with comments in parliament viewed as insulting to women.

In 2007, Fong was the target of remark that referred to her menstrual cycle when ruling coalition MP Bung Mohktar said during a discussion on a leaking parliament roof: "Where is the leak? The Batu Gajah MP also leaks every month."

Fong described the amendment as a "good move" but added that the speaker, who determines which comments are inappropriate, must be "gender-sensitive and impartial".

She suggested a gender-sensitivity training course for all members of parliament.

De facto law minister Nazri Aziz was quoted by The Star daily as saying the change aimed to stop sexist remarks "once and for all".

"Lately, there have been a lot of such incidents. We want to put a brake on it... This is to safeguard the honour of women," she said.

In 2011, an opposition lawmaker reportedly blamed wives for unfaithful husbands, saying: "When the husband has the need and she's cooking, she'll say, 'Please hold on, I'm cooking.' From a Muslim perspective, the wife has to drop all of this. She must give priority to her husband's needs."

Samy Vellu, a former lawmaker and long-time president of the Malaysian Indian Congress, which is part of the ruling coalition, reportedly once said: "Toilets are like new brides after they are completed. After some time, they get a bit spoiled. Even if you do not use them frequently, you need someone to clean them every 25 minutes."

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.