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You don’t mess with the Dewan!

(© Leaf / Dreamstime)
ONE early morning two weeks ago, a group of 15 citizens from a Petaling Jaya constituency filed into a chartered bus.

They carried blazers and jackets in varying states of crinkled-ness. Almost all were more alert than any amount of coffee could explain.

James, an electrician by profession, had a digital camera with him, but took down the e-mail addresses of everyone else. “Remember to send me your photos as well,” he insisted. As their journey got underway, conversation became hushed. They were, after all, on a pilgrimage.

Since the last general election, Parliament’s place as a mythic symbol in the popular Malaysian imagination has been somewhat rehabilitated. With a significant opposition presence for the first time in 30 years, the building is less a monument of government and more an emblem of shared destiny than ever before.

Past the gate, everyone in the party insisted on posing next to the oversized flower-bed clock and the tower behind it. “One more, one more,” James said.

James was visibly deflated when security took the group’s cameras and mobile phones, and remarked at how fortunate members of the press were, with their flashy SLRs, microphones, and television makeup.

James would later learn, and be assuaged by, the fact that not even journalists could bring such gear into Parliament proper. The Dewan was debating Budget 2009, and the opposition had staged a mass walkout only the day before, in protest of the new finance minister’s presentation. A repeat of such excitement was unlikely, but today’s visitors lived in hope.

Mansor, the public relations attache assigned to James’s group, furnished some ground rules. They were only allowed 20 minutes in the hall. They were to bow to tuan speaker before sitting and when they got up to leave. They were to remain silent at all times, without exception. Even though they were not required to do so, the group lined up segregated by gender, like a classroom on excursion.

What follows is part of what they heard while in the proverbially hallowed hall.

Kebanggaan rakyat

Bukit Kerusi: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, saya mohon menteri meminta maaf untuk statement beliau minggu lepas. Beliau kata beliau tidak tahu jumlah keuntungan syarikat-syarikat kilang dacing di Selangor dan Johor.

Hari ini, beliau membuat statement kepada press bahawa jumlah keuntungan itu sebenarnya RM10.5 juta. Saya berpendapat tuan menteri telah berniat membohongi dewan ini.

Pembikinan dacing merupakan antara industri yang paling aktif di negara ini. Hari ini kita boleh lihat, sektor ini menghasilkan keluaran sebanyak 30 juta tan metrik setahun.

Sejak penaiktarafan pada zaman 1980an di bawah pimpinan bekas perdana menteri yang dihormati, dacing-dacing yang dihasilkan di Malaysia telah memenangi enam anugerah kualiti antarabangsa. Dacing-dacing sememangnya produk kebanggaan rakyat.

Yang di-Pertua: Yang Berhormat, saya minta jangan guna perkataan yang kesat seperti berbohong Yang Berhormat.

Bukit Kerusi: Baik, saya tarik balik tetapi minta diperbetulkan kenyataannya kerana apa yang diperkatakan oleh tuan menteri tidak tepat. Jelas bahawa tuan menteri membelit-belit katanya untuk mengaburi mata rakyat. [Tepuk.]

Yang di-Pertua: Baik Yang Berhormat. Baik, silakan menteri. Perkataan “berbohong” sudah ditarik balik.

Menteri Kehakiman: Yang Berhormat Bukit Kerusi. Sebenarnya statement saya pada awal minggu lepas adalah benar, kerana pada waktu tersebut kementerian kehakiman masih tidak mengetahui figure yang sebenarnya.

Setelah ditanyakan soalan itu barulah pihak kerajaan menyiasat jumlah keuntungan itu. Mengumpul maklumat dari kementerian kewangan dan sebagainya. Apabila dapat maklumat itu saya membuat pengumuman, mengumumkan rakyat.

Saya membuat begitu, kerana apabila ditanya di dalam Dewan yang mulia ini, kami yang menjawat jawatan menteri mesti akur kepada kehendak Dewan dan menjawab dengan tepat. Saya menjalankan tugas. Jika dipanggil pembohong, saya tidak dapat terima. Baik-baik lagi oleh Yang Berhormat Bukit Kerusi, yang tidak ketahui situasi sebenarnya. You don’t understand.

Yang di-Pertua: Sudah ditarik balik, tidak payahlah diulang lagi Yang Berhormat.

Bukit Kerusi: Jikalau benar-benar begitu, adakah kementerian kehakiman begitu lambat mengetahui maklumat penting? Kenapakah kementerian kewangan tidak mengumumkan jumlah keuntungan itu dengan terus terang?

Kayu Panjang: [Menyampuk.]

Menteri Kehakiman: You don’t understand.

Padang Halia: Ganjil, sebab tak guna Akta Rahsia Rasmi. Seperti kes dulu, dalam kes rasuah.

[Dewan riuh.]

Menteri Kehakiman: Itu tidak tahulah tetapi ini kena tarik balik.

Timbalan Menteri Pengajian Luar Negeri I: Itu yang digantung itu.

Menteri Kehormatan: Kalau dahulu ketua pembangkang jadi menteri kewangan, kes rasuah tidak timbulkah?

Yang di-Pertua: Yang Berhormat.

Padang Halia: [Bangun.]

Menteri Kehakiman: Siapa yang terperangkap dalam rasuah dulu? You baru dalam Parlimen, you tidak tahu.

Parit Lurus: Skandal rasuah belum selesai lagi. Pandai kata orang …

Sehijau: [Membuat aksi silat.]

Menteri Kehakiman: You ikut buntut sahaja, mana tahu. Rasuah apa?

Yang di-Pertua: Sudah, sudah. [Dewan bermain pedang.] Yang Berhormat-Yang Berhormat. Yang Berhormat Padang Halia, Yang Berhormat Shah Buana minta duduk. Sudah Yang Berhormat. Sudah cukup bising. Saya pun sudah dengar semua Yang Berhormat. Sekarang dengar standing order ini.

Padang Halia: Saya tidak puas, kerana menteri panggil saya ikut buntut.

Menteri Kehakiman: Buntut ini ada banyak makna. Ertinya kalau sup buntut pun buntut juga, kalau ikut belakang pemimpin pun buntut juga. Tadi pun dia masuk pun dia ikut belakang ketua pembangkang juga. Itu maksud saya.

[Dewan memakai topi kertas berbentuk sampan.]

Yang di-Pertua: Tak, tak Yang Berhormat. Ini adalah peraturan, saya kena jawab dulu.

Padang Halia: [Tersedu-sedan.] Saya. Saya ingat awak punya keluarga semua ini macam juga!

Menteri Kehakiman: Dia tuduh saya rasuah.

Seorang Ahli: B*****d.

And so on.

The group was ushered out at 11.10am, so they were forced to watch the ensuing fracas on the press room television, much to the annoyance of the journalists in attendance.

When asked what he thought about Malaysia’s parliamentary system at work, James shook his head and said it was — considering the status of the institution — not as infused with gravitas as he had hoped. “All that, saying bad words all, is quite shameful,” he said.

Did sitting in for the session further explain the weighing-scale-manufacturing issue to him? “Not really,” James answered; “it was too short, and they didn’t really talk about the issue.”

Nevertheless, James maintained that his trip to Parliament was entertaining. Seeing the action in person was particularly stimulating. “Much better than watching on TV,” James said. He only wished he’d been able to take photographs.

Zedeck Siew wishes he could have sat in the Dewan Rakyat for more than 20 minutes.

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2 Responses to “You don’t mess with the Dewan!”

  1. “Sehijau: [Membuat aksi silat.]”


  2. machinist says:

    Mr Z,

    The Nut Graph is good for you. You’re getting funnier and funnier.

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