ON Thursday, Parliament passed a motion to refer Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman to the Rights and Privileges Committee for his derogatory remarks against the Hindu community in Malaysia.
It was unfortunate, however, that the Opposition members showed no interest in debating the motion and resorted to shouting and heckling to disrupt the proceedings.
Nevertheless, I believe that it is still important to put on record some arguments on why Tajuddin deserved to be referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee. Here, I would like to highlight two reasons.
1. Maintaining the integrity of the Dewan Rakyat: The Malaysian Parliament celebrated its 60th anniversary this week. Indeed, Parliament is a constitutional institution established under the Federal Constitution, the highest law of our land. Article 44 of the Federal Constitution provides that Parliament shall consist of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and two chambers, which are the Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat.
For the Dewan Rakyat, the members are elected through elections. As elected representatives, MPs have a responsibility to protect the interest of all Malaysians, not just those in our respective constituencies.
It is for the above reasons that the Dewan Rakyat is commonly referred to as “the honourable House”. In other words, it is a constitutional institution which represents the people of Malaysia and its sanctity should therefore be protected.
When Tajuddin uttered the remarks “abu dekat dahi itu abu apa itu? Abu Chin Peng kah?” to my colleague RSN Rayer (MP Jelutong), he held the Dewan Rakyat in contempt. The “abu” that Tajuddin referred to is actually known as vibuthi and using it is an important religious practice among Hindus.
Tajuddin’s statement was contemptuous of Parliament because it insulted and belittled the religious sensitivity and practices of the Hindu community in Malaysia. Such a statement can never be tolerated, what more when uttered in the Dewan Rakyat, a constitutional institution which represents the aspirations and voice of Malaysians.
2. Parliamentary conduct and standing order: The second reason pertains to the conduct and standing order of the Dewan Rakyat. Standing Order 36(10)(c) clearly states that MPs must not use words that could promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities in Malaysia. I think everyone, including the Opposition members themselves, would agree that Tajuddin’s statement was clearly against this standing order.
Indeed, Tajuddin did withdraw his statement after MPs from Pakatan Harapan protested. However, the Speaker decided to accept the withdrawal without taking any further action. It was because of this that I strongly protested against the Speaker’s decision, which eventually earned me a two-day suspension from Parliament.
I harbour no ill-feelings or anger against the Speaker for his decision to suspend me. What is more important, however, is that the Speaker was setting a bad precedent in the conduct of the Dewan Rakyat.
Does this mean that any MPs can utter derogatory remarks against other races in Malaysia and get away without any consequences just by withdrawing the remark immediately after that? Furthermore, Tajuddin had made the remark numerous times.
We should also examine the manner in which Tajuddin withdrew his statement. It is clear that he showed absolutely no regret or remorse when doing so. We can see from video recordings that he was still laughing about the matter when the withdrawal was made. After the Speaker suspended him for two days, he even dared to challenge the authority of the Speaker by saying that two days were not enough.
For the reasons above, I believe that the motion to refer Tajuddin to the Rights and Privileges Committee has been rightly passed.
KHOO POAY TIONG
MP Kota Melaka
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