On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

The silly season is upon us again

IT'S that silly season of the year again. Each time Parliament is in session, we can be guaranteed that at least two or three Yang Berhormats will either infuriate us or make us laugh with their remarks and antics. 

The current Dewan Rakyat session, which started last week, will only
end on July 18, but it has the makings of a circus already. We are not
sure if it's the act of calling each other animals or the politicians
themselves who quite fit the description. 

But one thing is for sure, the Dewan Rakyat must be one of the rudest
legislative chambers in the world. After all, Kuala Lumpur has been
ranked as the third rudest city in the world by a magazine. So if there
is such a ranking, we can be sure our legislators will not let us down,
in the true tradition of Malaysia Boleh

Fortunately, apart from the verbal jousting, our YBs have not resorted
to physical drama like punching, kicking and hair pulling, which the
Taiwanese lawmakers seem to be quite proud of. 

After all, we do believe in kesopanan dan kesusilaan
(mutual respect and good social behaviour), which our politicians like
to preach about, since they learned this Rukunegara principle from a
young age. The rest is fair game. It is a jantan (manly) thing to do, one may say. 

Last week, the bad boy of the Dewan Rakyat, Datuk Bung Moktar Radin
(Kinabatangan-BN) was in the news again. He is the kind of politician
whose behaviour has become fairly predictable. Malaysians and the press
can expect him to display political cockiness and unparliamentary
language when putting down his opponents. 

But does he care? I don't think so. He has his name in the news and I am sure that is all that matters to him. 

Coming from Kinabatangan, where the media has shown little interest,
except when trees are illegally chopped down or when dead freshwater
dolphins are found, he is a virtual unknown the whole year round. 

So, when Mr MP comes to town, he has to make sure his name is mentioned
and noticed by his political bosses. The rest of us, the people and the
media, are really not his concern. 

The House turned into a verbal war zone on Wednesday when a shouting
match erupted between BN and Opposition MPs over a factual error in a
question answered by Deputy Internal Minister Datuk Mohd Johari

In the free-for-all that ensued, MPs traded insults, comparing each other with animals and even questioning their sanity. 

The MP for Jelutong, Karpal Singh, who can also be depended upon for
parliamentary humour, accused Bung Moktar of creating division in the
House, saying "dia otak tak centre (the MP is insane)." 

As the row continued, Bung Moktar responded: "You should keep quiet.
It's a lucky thing that you are in wheelchair. You almost died once (in
an accident last year)."  

Not to be outdone, Karpal Singh asked "to shoo the animal out of the House. You are nothing more than a big fool from Sabah." 

Since proceedings are now videotaped, we are able to watch as the MPs
slugged and bullied each other, like what schoolboys do these days. The
tactic seems to be that if one loses in a debate, the best approach
would be to intimidate or to disrupt the proceedings. It also works for
MPs who have not prepared their speeches well. 

The hardworking MPs, who have spent hours on research, unfortunately
find themselves "hijacked" by these rude MPs the next day. The press,
after all, also look for such fights in Parliament. 

But not to be outdone, the Close-One-Eye Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusuf
accused certain top Customs officials of selling confiscated luxury
cars cheaply to their "friends" in the palaces and other government

He further claimed that the officials had abused their power by selling
the cars meant for open auction to their royalty friends in return for

But until now, he has not produced a shred of evidence to back up his
claims. In fact, after whacking Customs, knowing he would be fully
protected by parliamentary privilege, he has astonishingly said he
would not lodge any police report. 

No one is suggesting that the Customs officers are angels, when many
enforcement agencies are perceived to be corrupt by Malaysians, but as
a lawmaker, isn't it his duty to submit evidence of wrongdoings to the

He should know better. By withholding such information, he risks being accused of wanting to get back at Customs. 

Really, what kind of examples are our MPs setting? To curse a fellow MP
or, for that matter, anybody who has been injured, must have baffled
any decent and fair-minded Malaysian.  

By now, Malaysians are used to the racist and sexist remarks of certain
MPs but they never fail to amaze us with more of their outbursts. 

What is terribly missing from Parliament is quality debates with witty
repartee. They should perhaps read up the Hansards from our early years
and learn how the Tunku and his contemporaries from both sides of the
political divide debated.We wish there would be more MPs like Datuk
Shahrir Samad (BN-Johor Baru), Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (BN-Kota Baru), Dr
Wee Ka Siong (BN-Air Hitam) and Loh Seng Kok (BN-Kelana Jaya) who have
displayed much intelligence, even courage, in their delivery. 

For the opposition figures, Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar (PAS-Tumpat) has
managed to project an image of moderation, which is so lacking in the
Islamist party. 

The DAP women MPs have also made a name for themselves but they need to
refrain from joining in the jeering and name-calling, which take away
the shine from them. 

There are plenty of reasons to telecast the Dewan Rakyat sessions on
television. Malaysians would then know whether they have elected a
hard-working MP or a clown to represent them.