18 May, 2007

'Bocor' MPs apologise to all women, again ?

The MPs who made the "bocor" remarks in Parliament made a formal public apology to all women after meeting Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil Friday morning.

Ten days after making a sexist remark in Parliament, the two "bocor" MPs relented to the furore of women in the country and apologised.

Emerging from a 40-minute meeting with Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil this morning, both said they apologise to all women in the country if their remarks had insulted them.

Shahrizat said there is now "closure" with the open apology by Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusof and Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokthar Radin.

She added that her Ministry accepts the apology with "grace".

"It is up to them to personally and specifically apologise to (Batu Gajah MP) Fong Po Kuan," she said.

"I would like to categorically state that sexism in any form, by words or action, by men or women, whether in Parliament made by elected representatives of both Government and Opposition or indeed anywhere else in this country, is not acceptable.

"I have in no uncertain terms communicated to the two MPs from Kinabatangan and Jasin the Ministry's unflinching stand on this matter i.e. do not trifle with gender issues.

However, Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) and Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN-Jasin) refused to refer to Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) when asked whether the apology was also extended to her (Fong).

Bung had in the Dewan Rakyat on May 9 remarked that Fong also "leaked every month" (in apparent reference to women's menstrual cycle) during a heated debate on Parliament House's leaky roof.

It was not a sincere apology from Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) and Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN-Jasin).

"They should be suspended for a year for making such sexist remarks in Parliament," Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) said today.

She said the apology was meaningless as it was made a week after the sexist remark and most importantly the two Barisan Nasional MPs did not apologise personally to her and to her constituency.

She said during a forum last night, the public had agreed that the two MPs should be suspended for 12 months in total. Six months for making the remark and another six months for not apologising personally to her.

"They should be sent to do community service for women groups during the suspension period and their allowances should also be donated to women groups or non-governmental organisations," she added.

"They should also apologise to me personally," she told reporters after viewing their apology in a SMS news alert service today.

A recording of the event showed Bung saying: "Mana bocor, Batu Gajah pun tiap-tiap bulan pun bocor juga (Where is the leak? Batu Gajah MP also leaks every month." Mohd Said then supported Bung.

The Cabinet had on Wednesday (May 16) discussed the "bocor" issue and mandated Shahrizat to handle the matter today.

Shahrizat told reporters: "Both MPs raised their hands to indicate they surrender when they stepped into my office. Before I could say anything, they apologised and gave an assurance it will not happen again."

The minister, who was not her usual smiling self, looked stern throughout her press briefing. She did not even smile for press photographers.

Shahrizat said sexist remarks in any form, made by men or women, by representatives of the Government or the Opposition, are unacceptable.

"I told the two MPs of my ministry's unflinching stand on the issue and reminded them not to repeat it in future, especially in Parliament.

"If I was in parliament on that day (May 9), I would have stood up and demanded for an explanation, " she said, adding she will inform Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the meeting and its outcome.

"As they (the two MPs) have tendered their public apology to the women of Malaysia, through this ministry, we must have the grace to accept it with a serious reminder that this kind of episode must never recur," she said.

For the past 10 days, non-governmental organisations, especially those related to women affairs, had issued press statements to censure the MPs, demanding for an apology.

Bung said: "I also have a wife and a daughter. I humbly ask for the forgiveness of all women across the country if they felt they were insulted by my remarks.

"Mohd Said and I came to meet the minister with a sense of responsibility and repentance. It should not have been an issue at all, but it was highlighted by the media ... dragging all the women nationwide into the issue.

"With the apology, I hope the DAP will not continue to harp on the issue. Stop selling old newspapers, it's not in demand anymore."

Mohd Said said: "I clasp my 10 fingers and extend my apologies if the 'bocor' remark had hurt the feelings of women or any other party."

Reading out a prepared statement, Mohd Yusof said he regretted the May 9 incident in the Dewan Rakyat which he alleged was manipulated by certain parties.

The whole incident, he said, was turned into a negative affair and did not reflect the true situation.

"I was only defending matters concerning the Barisan Nasional which the Opposition had ridiculed and made baseless accusations," he said.

The Opposition, he further alleged, in their debates in the parliament which also saw them using 'impolite' words, often touched on his integrity as an MP.

Claiming he has never put women down, Mohd Yusof said women's associations in his constituency have been given allocations.

"I have succeeded in creating women entrepreneurs in the agriculture industry in Jasin, especially among 62 single mothers," he added.

Mohd Yusof however reiterated the issue was not in any way related to discrimination against the women or MPs being insensitive to the gender issue, but that it was a plot by the Opposition to run down the government's agenda.

Both MPs then hurriedly left the press conference in the lobby of the ministry and declined to answer questions fielded by reporters.

"Sorry, we have to leave ... I have a flight to catch," said Bung Mokhtar before he and Mohd Yusof shoved their way through the media gathering.

During the press conference, a three-member DAP team, led by secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and Fong handed over a one-page memorandum to Shahrizat's press secretary.


The DAP memorandum:

BY HAND

Y.B. Dato' Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil
Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga Dan Masyarakat
Aras 1-6, Blok E
Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan Bukit Perdana
Jalan Dato' Onn
50515 Kuala Lumpur

Yang Berhormat Dato' Seri,

10-Point Resolution To Uphold Women's Dignity Towards A First World Parliament

We are instructed by the participants and the major women organisations at a "Uphold Women's Dignity, Towards A First World Parliament" forum in YMCA Hall in Brickfields Kuala Lumpur on 17th May to convey the following 10 points for immediate action from YB during the meeting with YB Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN - Kinabatangan) and YB Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN - Jasin) at 10 am today.

1) That the meeting OBSERVES that the remarks on 9 May 2007 in Parliament by both BN MPs against YB Fong Poh Kuan (DAP - Batu Gajah) while they were in a heated argument over the ceiling leakage in the Parliament building, is highly offensive and demeaning towards all women as well as a form of sexual harassment towards YB Fong in her performance of her duties.

2) FURTHER OBSERVES that both BN MPs have a dismal record as a serial offender of sexist remarks that displayed outright contempt, mockery and even hostility towards women.

3) AFFIRMS that Parliament should be a forum for serious discussion where issues that affect Malaysians and the country's future in a reasoned and rational manner instead of being perverted to spew demeaning insults based on one's race, gender or religion.

4) HEREBY RESOLVES that YB seeks that:-

a) both MPs unconditionally and unreservedly withdraw and apologise to both YB Fong Po Kuan and all women for such unacceptable behaviour that is contrary to social, cultural and religious norms of Malaysian society; and

b) severe penalties be meted out against both BN MPs in the form of suspension for a period of 6 months as a Member of Parliament, 6 months community service in a women NGO, 6 months MP's allowance be donated to women NGO groups and be stripped of their Datukships;

c) both MPs be required to attend counseling to remove their innate hostility and prejudice against women;

d) a Cabinet Committee on Gender Equality and a Parliament Caucus on Gender Equality be established to remove discriminatory practices both in and outside Parliament;

e) a full apology be made by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Nazri Aziz and UMNO MPs for Petrajaya, Tangga Batu, Johor Baru for defending both MPs, looking at it from a humorous perspective and promoting their right to utter such offensive language as freedom of speech;

f) a Code of Conduct be adopted by all political parties prescribing criteria that proscribe any candidates with a past history of prejudice and discrimination against women; and

g) courses on gender sensitization be given to all elected representatives and members of the Cabinet.

To this purpose a People's Parliament comprising of concerned citizens and netizens shall spread the message of upholding women's dignity and upgrading the personal standards and qualities of MPs. We trust that YB would perform your duty without fear or favour.

Restore the dignity of both women and Parliament!


Yours faithfully,

LIM GUAN ENG
SECRETARY-GENERAL


All that Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil wants is closure and for people to “move on” over the ‘bocor’ issue.

Read Malaysiakini's report here.

Zorro said:"CROCODILE TEARS? SHARIZAT NEED TO HAVE MORE MUSCLES."

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