War of words at unity debate

  • Nation
  • Friday, 09 Sep 2005

JOHOR BARU: Politicians traded verbal blows – which almost led to a scuffle – when the issue of national unity turned into a debate about racial-based parties at a public hearing here. 

Parliamentary Select Committee member Tan Sri K. S. Nijhar was provoked by Johor DAP organising secretary Dr Boo Cheng Hau's remarks that national unity was difficult to achieve when political parties were race based. 

When Nijhar asked the opposition member what the DAP’s racial composition was like, Johor DAP assistant publicity secretary Norman Fernandez retorted from the stands: “Stupid question. We’re all Bangsa Malaysia!” 

This sparked a heated exchange of words, which forced committee chairman Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili to call for a 10-minute break to calm the situation. 

However, the political rivals continued to argue outside the meeting room, drawing Johor MIC assistant secretary M. Soorianarayanan into the fray. 

He almost lunged at an opponent but was held back by the party’s state chief Datuk K. S. Balakrishnan. 

KEEP YOUR COOL: Dr Ongkili (centre, in suit) trying to calm the situation during the10-minute recess at the public hearing in Johor Baru yesterday.

The public hearing on unity and national service, held at the state assembly operations room here, was the sixth and final for the committee to hear public views on the issue. 

Later, Dr Ongkili told reporters that the heated verbal exchange was uncalled for. 

“Not everyone agrees on everything. An outburst is not necessary. 

“I’m happy it ended without any incident,” he said.  

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