PETALING JAYA: Wanita MCA’s proposal for a code of conduct to check on sexist and indecent behaviour among parliamentarians has received support from several women’s groups. But some remain suspicious of the movement’s motives in bringing the matter up now.
Chew Mei FunWanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun had announced on 14 Dec that she would lead a group of non-governmental organisations to hand over a memorandum to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and deputy Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
The memorandum calls for the Standing Orders to be amended to check errant Members of Parliament (MPs).
Sisters In Islam (SIS) senior programme manager Maria Chin Abdullah when contacted, said although it was a good move, she hoped it would be a consistent effort.
“When Chew was in Parliament (as Women, Family and Community Development Ministry parliamentary secretary), there was a gender caucus but she was not involved, so why now?
“When we were campaigning (against MPs making sexist remarks), she did not do anything, too,” she said in a phone interview.
Chin however said the proposal to amend the Standing Orders was a good one. SIS, she said, had been urging for this to include suspension of MPs who make sexist or abusive remarks against another MP.
All Women’s Action Society president Sofia Lim Siu Ching also said they welcomed Wanita MCA’s move to speak out on the issue, but added that the political movement should have acted earlier.
“If only Wanita MCA was as vocal during the last general election when a Wanita MCA candidate resorted to using sexist imagery against her opponent during campaigning,” she told The Nut Graph in a statement.
Lim was referring to MCA’s candidate for Seputeh, Carol Chew, whose campaign included banners of male caricatures during the 8 March elections to mock her opponent from DAP, Teresa Kok. Kok went on to win the seat.
Lim however said the Joint Action Group of Gender Equality (JAG), which comprises women’s groups, had also supported the call to amend the Standing Orders last year, and reiterated it earlier this year as part of their Kotakan Kata! campaign.
“But we are aware that an amendment alone will be toothless without enforcement and the broader commitment to eliminate sexism and discrimination.
“To this end, there should be programmes to educate MPs on the importance of and gaps in gender equality in Malaysian society,” she said.
Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said it was interesting to see a women’s political movement taking a step forward to stop sexism by presenting a memorandum.
“This shows that they are finally recognising non-governmental organisations’ efforts and their proposal will complement JAG’s call to amend the Standing Orders,” she said in a phone interview.