OPPOSITION MP Karpal Singh (DAP – Bukit Gelugor) apparently saw “animals, lunatics, creatures and ghosts” in Parliament last week.
The “animal” he “saw” was Bung Moktar Raidin (BN – Kinabatangan) and the “creatures” were a few Barisan MPs who had interrupted him and Lim Kit Siang (DAP - Ipoh Timor) during the debate on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address on Monday and Wednesday.
Karpal said he called Bung Moktar an animal because the latter was behaving like one.
“Tuan Speaker, bolehkah saya tahu siapa binatang ini? Kelakuan seperti binatang. Orang ini tidak siuman lebih baik hantar dia ke balai polis (Mr Speaker, may I know who this animal is? The behaviour is like an animal. This person is insane, it’s better to send him to the police station),” said Karpal, indicating Bung Moktar who had disrupted Lim’s attempt to propose an amendment to the motion.
Bung Moktar, who is known for his banter in the House, had apparently annoyed Karpal Singh when he abruptly stood up to interrupt Lim.
An irate Karpal continued to verbally attack Bung Moktar, describing him as a lunatic, and then told him to “shut up and sit down.”
Bung Moktar had kept on telling Lim to sit down and criticised his speech, describing it as “having no class”.
To the disappointment of DAP MPs, Karpal was reprimanded by Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob for using “unparliamentary” words. Dr Yusof eventually took control of the situation by telling the House of his decision to reject Lim’s proposed amendment to give other MPs the opportunity to take part in the debate was final.
Two days later, the House witnessed the sequel of the drama.
When it was Karpal’s turn to debate the motion, Bung Moktar stood up to get back at him. “Yang Berhormat, Dari mana binatang ini? Ini binatang dari mana, baru sampai. (Where is this animal from? This animal comes from where, it’s just arrived).”
Karpal explained that he called Bung Moktar an animal because his behaviour was typical of a Barisan MP who would always stand up unnecessarily without citing the Point of Order.
The situation worsened when Karpal referred to a few Barisan MPs as “creatures” when they stood up to protest his disparaging remarks about several Cabinet ministers.
“Itulah dia buang masa. Ini taktik Barisan Nasional. Mahkluk berdiri di sana sini. Kami dapat 20 minit buang masa dua tiga makhluk di sana berdiri tetapi tidak ada Point of Order. Apa yang kami perlukan adalah ahli-ahli yang bertanggungjawab, (He is wasting time. This is the Barisan Nasional’s tactic. There are creatures standing here and there. We have 20 minutes. Two or three creatures are standing there without citing the Point of Order. What we want are responsible members),” he said, raising an objection from another MP who asked whether the word “makhluk” (creatures) could be used in the House.
Karpal defended himself by saying that the word was not aimed at any particular MP.
But what irked Barisan MPs most was when Karpal called former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad “hantu” when he spoke on the issue of the declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic country.
Karpal, however, was forced to admit that Dr Mahathir was a respectable international personality after being rebuked by a Barisan MP for using insulting and degrading words against a nationalist who is respected internationally.
Datuk Amiruldin Badruddin (BN - Jerai) pointed out that even if Karpal was not aligned with Dr Mahathir, he should not be too extreme in his criticism.
On Tuesday, when Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (Keadilan – Permatang Pauh) spoke on the rape issue, Karpal took the opportunity to criticise Kota Kinabalu Umno protem committee chairman Roselan Johar Mohamed, who was reported to have said: “If one cannot fight rape, better lie down and enjoy it”.
Describing the remark as outrageous and unacceptable, Karpal said Roselan was also bad and rude for wrongly attributing his words to Confucius.
When met, Speaker Tun Dr Mohamed Zahir Ismail expressed his disapproval of MPs’ use of improper words that were meant to hurt another individual.
“When people are angry, they tend to say many things that they are not supposed to. It is quite normal but they should be more cautious,” he said.
Perhaps it would be wise for the House to consider a proposal by an MP that a regulation on ethics be introduced so that MPs would not use uncultured, slanderous, scathing and hurtful remarks.
After all, if the Yang Berhormats want to ensure a world-class Parliament, they must not only come up with quality debate but also be courteous and respect one another.
Fortunately, there are some MPs who can help release tension or liven up the situation in the House by cracking jokes to put their points across rather than using harsh words.
For example, Datuk Muhamad Aziz (BN - Sri Gading) evoked laughter in the House when he proposed that the Tourism Ministry replace the existing tourism advertisements.
“The sound of kompang and always having tourists attend wedding receptions (in the advertisement) make it seem like we want to get married every day,” he said, to the roar of laughter from MPs.
When Jimmy Donald (BN – Sri Aman) complained about the LCD screen in the House, he said it made MPs like him look fatter. He also complained about the lack of smoking rooms and Internet connectivity in the Parliament building.
Jimmy also proposed that the House look up an Iban folk tale called Bagi Badak (Give the Rhinoceros) to fix a 10:1 ratio of participation in debates between Barisan MPs and Opposition MPs.
In the folk tale, a group of animals were gathered for a meeting, which was chaired by the rhinoceros, to divide food among them.
The animals agreed to the rhinoceros’ decision that he be allowed a bigger share of the food because of his larger size.
The other animals, including the tortoise, mouse deer, and rabbit were allocated smaller portions based on their size.
According to Bagi Badak system, Jimmy said, the majority should get a bigger share of time for debate, to laughter among the Barisan MPs.
The Dewan sits again tomorrow.