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Shocking racism in Parliament

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Aliran is shocked at the racist incident that took place on the first day of the parliamentary sitting that began yesterday.

Parliamentarian Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim’s racist conduct yesterday was utterly unbecoming of an MP. As an MP, he was elected to serve the will of the people. But his shameful use of a racist slur against a fellow MP was not only a personal attack but also seen as a deep-cutting insult to Malaysia’s multi-ethnic society.

The boorish behaviour of the MP for Baling was despicable and must be roundly condemned by all Malaysians who cherish our diversity and multi-ethnic harmony. Such hurtful words simply do not belong in our society, much less in the hallowed halls of Parliament at the heart of our democracy. What example has this MP set for the people of Malaysia?

The newly appointed Speaker should have put his foot down and reprimanded the offending MP immediately. That would have put MPs on notice against any attempt to use offensive, racist or sexist language. It was a missed opportunity for the speaker to display his courage and set an uncompromising tone against such language.

Instead the Speaker did nothing – until today, when he made a belated ruling against the offensive remarks. The MP for Baling finally retracted his remark and offered a belated apology to the MP for Batu Kawan. Azeez should also apologise to all Malaysians for these racist remarks.

From now on, the Speaker must show he is an independent adjudicator acting without fear or favour. He must crack down swiftly on any offensive, boorish, racist and sexist behaviour.

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Yesterday’s racist incident in Parliament was not the first – but it must never recur. We demand that MPs act with the dignity and respect befitting their role as representatives of the people.

Since the Sheraton Move in late February and the delay in holding meaningful parliamentary proceeding until July, the people’s trust in the parliamentary democratic process has fallen to an all-time low.

Unfortunately, the first day of the parliamentary sitting that began yesterday turned into a circus of reprehensible behaviour, which will not help to endear the institution to the people it purportedly serves.

It is time MPs restore the people’s faith in the legislature by doing what they were elected to do – representing the will and the needs of the people.

Aliran executive committee
14 July 2020
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