In a move to ‘cleanse’ the House of Representatives of racist and sexist remarks, Speaker Johari Abdul recently announced his plan to impose fines on wayward parliamentarians.
Although there is already a provision to deal with this under the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952, it has never been applied, he said.
Johari plans to increase the fine to more than RM1,000; perhaps, one fine imposed per objectionable utterance.
There have been instances where certain women MPs had to bear off-colour jokes and mischievous comments by sexist colleagues.
When caught with their pants down, the offending MPs would plead they had been misunderstood or that their utterances were taken out of context – that is, after a snigger.
Similarly, certain derogatory terms were hurled at MPs of a certain racial background. These were clearly provocative and downright racist, and did not add any value to the ongoing debate.
If anything, such vile remarks only distract MPs from focusing on the issues at hand as they waste precious time trading barbs.
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MPs who misbehave in such a manner are generally given a slap on the wrist or worse, let off the hook. It is obvious that the kid glove treatment is not a panacea for grave misconduct.
Apart from fines, what is needed is for guilty MPs to be given a crash course in parliamentary decorum, patriarchy, social justice, equality, human dignity, sexism and women’s rights.
This is short of recommending that their framed photos be hung on a wall of shame.
Hopefully, this would help certain male MPs see their female colleagues as beings with intelligence and capability, deserving of dignified treatment.
One would also hope that such a move would reduce prejudice and discrimination against other races.
Meting out harsher punishment could raise the standard of debate in the august chamber not only for the benefit of participating MPs but also for the observing public.
Hopefully, in the long run, the title “Yang Berhormat” would remain honourable. – The Malaysian Insight
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