JAG Statement: JAG Accelerates Campaign Against Sexist MPs

JAG is dismayed that 11 sexists MPs have been re-nominated by political parties to stand in this 12th general election. Three Members of Parliament, Datuk Mohamad Said Yusuf of Jasin was dropped and Raja Dato’ Ahmad Zainuddin and Dato’ Haji Muhamad are not contesting.

The continued nomination in particular that of Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan), Mohamed bin Aziz (BN-Sri Gading), and Baharuddin bin Amiruldin (BN-Jerai) who have been repeat offenders over the past 10 years constitute utter disregard for public opinion and women voters.

Every time an MP uttered sexist remarks during parliamentary debates, there were public outcries demanding apologies, disciplinary action and resignations from these errant MPs.

In 2007, JAG issued several press statements on this matter and in May, it staged a protest at the premises of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

In December 2007, JAG wrote to the political parties urging them not to field sexist MPs, to field at least 30% of women in win-able seats and to appoint at least 30% of women into local councils.

Despite all JAG has done and the public outrage, it is appalling that political parties continued to field these 11 MPs with a proven track record of being sexist.

When MPs make sexist comments, they discriminate against women because they violate women’s right to be treated with respect and dignity. These sexist remarks tantamount to sexual harassment. MPs must remember that they are accountable to their women voters too.

The 11 sexist MPs who have been nominated for this General Election are:

* Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan)
* Mohamed bin Aziz (BN-Sri Gading)
* Badruddin bin Amiruldin (BN-Jerai)
* Idris Haron (BN-Tangga Batu)
* S. Samy Vellu (BN-Sungai Siput)
* Mohamad Hayati bin Othman (PAS-Pendang)
* Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian)
* Shabudin Yahaya (BN-Permatang Berangan)
* Jasmin Mohamad (BN-Sungai Dua)
* Tuan Haji Wan Junaidi bin Tuanku Jaafar (BN-PBB-Santubong)
* Abdul Fatah Harun (PAS-Bukit Tuku)

Today on 2 March 2008, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) take one further step to put into action our election demand that Parliament has no room for sexist MPs.

While it is a coincidence that polling day falls on March 8 which is International Women’s Day, it is significant that Malaysia must vote on this day to put in place political leaders who are able to contribute towards gender equality and bring meaningful change for women without making demeaning jokes about them.

JAG is in Sungai Siput in the constituency of Datuk Samy Vellu, one of the 11 MPs who have shown disrespect to women. This is part of our voter education campaign to raise public awareness to demand an end to sexism in Parliament. Voters no longer accept sexist language nor sexist behaviour inside and outside of Parliament We have invited all three candidates to the press conference to give them an opportunity to endorse JAG’s position.

The choice of Sungai Siput does not mean JAG is only targetting Datuk Samy Vellu. We have enlisted the help of local NGOs and political parties to distribute JAG leaflets in other constituencies where the rest of the 11 MPs are campaigning for a seat in Parliament.

JAG feels it is important for us to bring information to the voters so that they can make an informed choice. JAG leaflets “Don’t Vote for Sexist MPs” in Bahasa, English and Chinese are being distributed to voters urging them to reject a candidate who has been insulting to women.

The leaflet not only has specific examples of sexist remarks made by these candidates but also seeks to educate voters and all MPs who will soon sit in Parliament.

There is no place in Parliament for sexist leaders. JAG urges women as well as men not to vote for them.

Issued by Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG):
Pusat Janadaya (Empower)
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Sisters in Islam (SIS)
All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)

Women’s Centre for Change (WCC), Penang
2 March 2008