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Rude MPs

(© Anouk Stricher / Dreamstime)
JUST how courteous are Malaysians when speaking to one another? There’s no problem when I speak with my own friends, even if we do use a few choice words against one another every now and then.

Then again, we’re not exactly elected representatives gathered in the august halls of Parliament.

As someone who reads the Hansard, I’ve set aside media reports of what happens in the Dewan Rakyat to review some of these incidents. Three are examined here.

Karpal Singh’s “jangan main-main”

During the 23 Oct session (question 10, page 20 onwards), Karpal Singh (DAP–Bukit Gelugor) accused speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia of fooling around in his decisions. This was after Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the opposition was blind if they couldn’t see that the government’s financial sponsorship of a Bar Council dinner was merely an act of goodwill. The opposition basically called it a bribe.

Karpal, who appears to be Parliament’s self-appointed voice of the disabled, called on the speaker to ask Nazri to retract his statement because it affronted the visually impaired. He even called Nazri “kurang ajar”.

When the speaker said he didn’t find the comments insulting to the disabled, Karpal asked him to reconsider and stop fooling around.

The speaker repeated that Nazri’s comments were not an affront to the disabled, and asked that Karpal be removed from the Dewan for using the phrase “kurang ajar”, which is un-parliamentary.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim then stood up and asked that the decision be reconsidered. Anwar requested that both sides discuss issues with civility and courtesy. The speaker stood his ground and asked again that Karpal be removed from the hall.

He said “bastard”!

Certain politicians are seeing red in Parliament
This next exchange (page 87 onwards) was also spun by the media. When Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (Parti Sosialis Malaysia [PSM]–Sungai Siput) was asking his question, he made mention of Hindraf. Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN–Pasir Salak) stood and asked if Devaraj supported the now-illegal organisation.

Then the bothersome M Kulasegaran (DAP–Ipoh Barat) decided to butt in, claiming that the people of Pasir Salak hated their Member of Parliament. This set off a 20-minute altercation in which Tajuddin called Kulasegaran a “bastard”.

The speaker decided to end the name-calling by asking both sides to retract their statements. Kulasegaran revised his statement, saying the Indian community “doesn’t like” Tajuddin, and Tajuddin retracted the word “bastard”, with apologies that the attack was somehow personal.

Throughout the argument, Devaraj interjected several times, asking if they could just get on with the debate instead.

Obviously, both DAP and Umno would do better to emulate the PSM parliamentarian’s conduct.

Fong Po Kuan’s fourth strike

In the recent kicking out (page 82 onwards) of Fong Po Kuan (DAP–Batu Gajah) from the Dewan, I couldn’t sympathise with her. Picture this: the speaker calls the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to wind up the session. Fong stands and reads Standing Order 35(2), and asks the speaker why he didn’t call on her previously to give her say. The speaker says he didn’t see her standing up.

Fong loses her cool and starts demanding that the speaker be fair. One, two, three, four times she demands this.

Grrr. Arrgh
(© Oleh Zaporozhets / Dreamstime)
The speaker, losing his cool after the fourth time, asks her to sit down. She doesn’t, and so the speaker invokes Standing Order 44(2) and orders Fong to be escorted out of the hall until the end of the day.

Chong Chieng Jen (DAP–Bandar Kuching) decides to get involved in the argument after the speaker warns him not to, and gets kicked out as well under Standing Order 44(2).

The courteous ones

In all three incidents, there is a common thread: the lack of courtesy and use of rhetoric and foul language by both the Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Rakyat representatives. What exactly is the purpose of calling someone “kurang ajar” or “blind”? What is the use of saying to an elected representative that his or her own constituency hates him or her? Why lose your cool just because the speaker did not see you standing up?

Obviously, both sides are lacking in civility at this point in time, and I don’t think a courtesy programme in Parliament is going to make a change.

Personally, I find the whole courtesy thing laughable because even before I started reading the Hansards, these politicians were already cursing during their campaigns.

From my observation, the most courteous in the Dewan are people like PSM’s Devaraj, R Sivarasa (Parti Keadilan Rakyat–Subang), Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Kohilan Pillay (from Gerakan), and, I have to admit this sadly, all of the PAS MPs.

So where exactly should the rakyat learn courtesy from? Not Parliament.

Ahmad Hafidz Baharom is a paradox. He’s an anti-smoking chain smoker, an environmentalist who leaves his office lights on, a centrist who’s a lalang, and a twentysomething yuppie who dreams of being a slacker. Basically, he’s a lovable moron.

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20 Responses to “Rude MPs”

  1. Sino says:

    So next time we voters better make doubly sure we vote for the right person to be in Parliament. Throw out all these “kurang ajar” and “bastard” types.

  2. oakinn says:

    Dear Hafidz…I share your opinion & beliefs that many more M’sians want their MPs to act as one, not like a rude ape hell-bent on getting micro with words used, statements made and so forth and at the same time missed the trees from the forest!

    How I hope my MPs would argue diligently, like the open debate of the Americans or maybe the British MPs. Although I have only seen glimpses of their performances so far, they sure look like a much better lot compared to us.

    By the way, wonder why…in your last para…”From my observation, the most courteous in the Dewan…and, I have to admit this sadly, all of the PAS MPs.”

    Why admit it sadly?

  3. Hey oakinn,

    Let’s just say that the religious right and I have pretty much a quiet but friendly vendetta. They pretty much think that they have the right to dictate and enforce religious law, I think they’re hypocritically out of their minds.

  4. pywong says:

    Dear sir,

    What exactly do you mean by “I have to admit this sadly, all of the PAS MPs.”? That is very discourteous of you over an article on courtesy.

  5. Dear pywong,

    I am being courteous, yet cynical at the same time.

  6. Eric says:

    How about a rude speaker? Could you compare speech time given between BN’s backbenchers, frontbenchers, and opposition? As well as the punishments meted out to these three groups? I guess the pro-BN bias would be very apparent.

  7. oakinn says:

    Bro Hafidz,

    Can The Nut Graph attract some of the MPs to post here…maybe come out with a 10 point list of how we want our MPs to behave in the good house. Then, get them to comment on why they would or would not behave accordingly.

    What say you?

  8. Hi Eric,

    When it comes to the speaker of the house, yes, I would agree that there seems to be some malfunction with all three “sound systems”…

    I would have thought we got stereo sound, but seems we’ve ended up with all three being “Mono-R”.

  9. Hello again oakinn,

    If you haven’t noticed, there are two MPs I know of posting for

    One being the courteous Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj (PSM).

    The other being the “walk out, walk in back again” (which is good because he represents the people first, party second) Tony Pua (DAP).

    I think there already is a courtesy campaign in Parliament. However, I’ve yet to read the Hansards dated 17 – 19 November to see if it’s working.

  10. ChooVS says:

    Ahmad Hafidz Baharom,

    The people should be more interested in MPs who deliver quality speeches, not just those who make noise.
    Some may be courteous but when they open their mouths, you hardly understand what they’re saying.
    Look at the TV3 news telecasts at 8pm … MPs yelling on top of their voices and talking rubbish! Like a bunch of schoolchildren!
    Read the Hansards again. Who are the MPs talking sense?

  11. Lim says:

    Don’t forget that Sarawakian – Bung – he is the number one disgrace lah – Where did the Sarawakians get him from?

  12. Choo VS,

    “From my observation, the most courteous in the Dewan are people like PSM’s Devaraj, R Sivarasa (Parti Keadilan Rakyat–Subang), Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Kohilan Pillay (from Gerakan), and, I have to admit this sadly, all of the PAS MPs.”

    I thought I made it quite clear who I personally thought were making sense and being courteous at the same time (the former sometimes not applicable to PAS MPs).

    Perhaps you’d like to read a few hansards yourself just to suggest a few others?

    Please don’t suggest Lim Kit Siang. And I’m sorry if he’s reading this, but courtesy….not your strong point, Uncle Lim.

  13. Ragedindian says:

    How true your words are. It is disheartening to see that some of our MPs are acting so uncivilized in a place where supposedly the most respectable are elected to debate for us.

    I wonder when they will change.

    P.S : I’ve got to say I’m your big fan. I followed you all this while in CB, but you left there and now you’ve come in again, I know you’re back.

    I just your description at the end of the article. Basically, a lovable moron. Lol. Cheers Aput.

  14. ChooVS says:

    Hafidz Baharom

    I wonder how you can equate courtesy with quality.

    You can be courteous and not say a thing, but since you said you were “someone who reads the Hansards”, I asked for your opinion as to who the “quality” MPs were.

    I mean the people who bring up issues that really affect the everyday life of the people — and the nation.

    To me, very few come to mind. Perhaps Mustapa Mohamad, from the little I’ve seen on TV.

    Talking about TV, did you see the shouting match involving the Puchong MP last night?

  15. Hey ChooVS,

    Yes, I saw the whole “stand up and apologise like a man”, which is totally counter intuitive, don’t you think?

    Because Parliament is full of men, and never once have they stood up to apologise whenever they were wrong, ever, in their political careers.

    The MP from Puchong himself could have been referred to the Committee of Privileges for stating that there are no toll-free roads from Puchong. A recent forum discussion highlighted that such roads exist, going through Old Klang Road.

    However, I do relate with what the Puchong MP said. It is on record that what Nazri Aziz said was wrong, seeing that it is in the Hansard.

    Therefore, an apology must also be made on the record as well.

    However, the Speaker did highlight the case articulating that MP’s intention was not to confuse the hall, and he took that basis for this case as well.

    But I digress….

    When speaking about quality, we need to see just what portfolio they have been handed.

    Kohilan Pillay is excellent in quality because he’s placed in a ministry that he can relate to, the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities. Thus, he can present facts very well.

    Jeyakumar Devaraj is also of excellent quality because he’s promoting a path for equality based on class, not race, which I subscribe to (most of it, at least) much to my current employer’s chagrin.

    R Sivarasa is brilliant on topics relating to education, which the minister himself is open-minded enough to listen to, though I’ve yet to see any action taken on that.

    In handling hot seat situations, I’d have to credit the Minister of Works because he has a lot of explaining to do on behalf of a disgraceful certain ex-MP who lost the election on his birthday, went home to take a shower, and didn’t even have the courtesy to stay and congratulate the winner.

    I thought Shahrir Abdul Samad showed grace on the 19th when he actually told the Deputy Speaker he’s willing to accept two more supplementary questions (making it 4), making the Deputy Speaker jokingly say that it was no longer Parliament, but a “pasar”.

    If you want to judge quality defined by bringing up what is related to the people, then perhaps you’d love to read how an MP was recently promoting his constituency’s “asam pedas” in Parliament as being the best in Malaysia…..

    A lot of issues brought up are worth mentioning from the Hansards, but unfortunately, I’m not supposed to be writing a column specifically on it, which is why I recommend that people read them.

    Plus, it would be hard to summarize a document of an average of 140 pages into an 800-word article.

  16. manac says:

    To Lim: Bung is from Sabah.

  17. Lim,

    Bung Mokhtar is from Sabah, not Sarawak. Please don’t blame the wrong state.

    However, I am rather impressed with Bung Mokhtar on the fact that he sometimes (not most of the time) brings up good points. And so does Khairy, by the way.

  18. Raine says:

    I feel embarrassed yet I chuckle to myself whenever I watch parliamentary proceedings where MPs cannot speak/debate gracefully/”educatedly”. I hear so much “bahasa pasar” too which can be quite amusing.

    The chairs (I mean, literally, the things we sit on) must be the long, “bangku” type. Otherwise don’t you think they’d be hurling those chairs at one another already? Hokkien people say, “Paiseh”.

  19. mike says:

    Should have chosen a neutral speaker . . .not easy as most people are biased somehow but calling names … that is low and all who utter such words should be remove from the Dewan.

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