War of words over insensitive remarks

THE calm and order of the current state assembly sitting was disrupted on the ninth day yesterday following a series of heated arguments involving the assemblymen from both sides of the political divide.

Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan assemblymen were involved in a shouting match for 15 minutes over the use of word bodoh (stupid) at the state assembly.

In the incident, State Investment Committee chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim demanded Datuk Sulaiman Abdul Razak (BN-Permatang) to withdraw his statement that DAP caused the May 13 racial riot in 1969.

Teng said it was a provocative statement and should be withdrawn by Sulaiman.

Sulaiman refused and alleged that Teng had made a similar remark against Umno in the past.

Teng said Sulaiman’s statement had hurt the feelings of his fellow elected representatives and thus he should apologise, according to Rule 36 of the Standing Order.

Sulaiman continued to argue with Teng and also defied Speaker Hannah Yeoh’s call to sit down.

At that point, Teng said the Permatang assemblyman was misbehaving and acting foolishly.

This led to other Barisan assemblymen including Datuk Shamsuddin Lias (Sungai Burong), Sharom Mohd Sharif (Dengkil), Datuk Mat Nazari Dahalan (Batang Kali), Kamarol Zaki Abdul Malik (Sungai Air Tawar) to join the fray by calling Teng stupid.

They also ignored Yeoh’s repeated request to observe silence and be seated.

Sulaiman demanded Teng quote Rule 36 while others demanded that Teng apologise for starting the ruckus.

Teng then told the Speaker that he was prepared to forgive and forget what Sulaiman had uttered and the others for their bad behaviour.

Yeoh then conducted a “roll call” to get the rest to apologise.

Earlier, three PKR elected representatives including State Environment Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong were involved in a heated argument during the question-and-answer session.

Wong appeared agitated over a question from Yaakob Sapari (PKR-Kota Anggerik) on how repeated contamination incidents of Sungai Semenyih could have been prevented.

When it came to Yaakob’s turn to ask his question, Yeoh said Wong need not reply since the question had been answered earlier.

However, Yaakob insisted that his question must be answered because he specifically asked on the course of action to be taken to prevent repeated incidents of contamination of Sungai Semenyih.

Yeoh then directed Wong to answer the question.

Wong said she had already answered the question earlier and chided Yaakob for not paying attention to her reply.

“Where were you when I spent 45 minutes explaining this matter at the sitting.

“You are supposed to be here. I have answered all matters relating to your question earlier,” she said, adding that the state spent an additional RM1.3mil on technology as part of its efforts to prevent the contamination.

Yaakob then asked if the measures taken were sufficient to prevent a repeat of the contamination incident.

“It has been happening since 2008 and I don’t think we have done enough to stop it, “ said Yaakob.

As Wong was about to reply, she was interrupted by Dr Xavier Jeyakumar (PKR-Sri Andalas) who said Wong as a state exco member should not get agitated when questions were raised by state assemblymen.

Wong replied that the assemblymen were duty bound to be at the state assembly when replies were given by the state government.

“You must be present and pay attention when the state exco members take so much effort to reply to the questions,” she said.

The assembly was adjourned sine dine yesterday.

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