Obscene remarks can be disruptive as they can cut the flow of discussion in Parliament, observes Mustafa K Anuar.
If a parliament is as good as its members, it is incumbent upon Malaysia’s MPs to reflect on the misdemeanour that some in their ranks flaunted in recent times, much to the chagrin of ordinary citizens they supposedly represent.
It is disturbing to learn of, for instance, MP absenteeism that caused parliamentary proceedings to be disrupted temporarily because of a lack of quorum. The bell had to be rung before the proceedings could continue.
Concerned voters would expect politicians, particularly the discerning and articulate, to engage in discussions or debates in a skilful and rigorous manner for the benefit of the larger society.
To be absent from such important proceedings without a legitimate reason is most appalling.
If the lack of quorum was caused by the MPs stepping outside the house because it was too cold, as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin put it as the reason for the recent interruption, they should see to it that the room temperature is adjusted accordingly and immediately.
Either that or wear thick clothes to keep themselves warm to ensure an uninterrupted flow of parliamentary proceedings.
While absenteeism is a cause for concern, the following misconduct is a lot more disconcerting as it recurs from time to time, disrupts proceedings and veers to rowdiness, vulgarity and even sexism.
There is verbal diarrhoea that emanates from the grimy mouths of certain politicians in the heat of arguments during proceedings.
The recent incident involved a shout-out between Noh Omar (the Barisan Nasional member for Tanjung Karang) and RSN Rayer (Pakatan Harapan-Jelutong) where the former used an expletive of “p******”. That is a below-the-belt remark that deserves unqualified condemnation.
In August last year, a ruckus broke out during a parliamentary proceeding when Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) expressed the F-word after being goaded by other lawmakers.
Such obscene remarks can be disruptive as they can cut the flow of discussion, if not cease it entirely. They only bring about heat, not light, to Dewan Rakyat.
In March lawmakers from both sides of the divide gallantly showed their prowess in a shouting match in the presence of visiting Singapore speaker Tan Chuan Jin and his fellow MPs.
There was even an attempt to get Tan indirectly involved during the ugly exchange. After the visit, Tan reportedly cautioned the visiting MPs “not to get any wrong ideas from this particular episode”.
These Malaysian politicians should know when to hold their tongue because a formal setting clearly demands decorum. Such misconduct obviously has the effect of mocking and trivialising Parliament.
This verbal spat could also lead to something more sinister and uglier, as a recent incident seemed to forewarn us – two Umno lawmakers were close to trading physical blows at the Parliament lobby.
It makes you wonder whether the title Yang Berhormat (Right Honourable), which is assigned to MPs, is a deplorable mortal mistake. In this situation, the supposedly treasured dignity of oneself appears to have swiftly flown out the window.
It is hoped that, given their propensity, these politicians would not turn our Parliament into a training ground for court jesters.