On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Politicians, think before you speak

THERE he goes again. As if on cue, Jerai MP Datuk Badruddin Amiruldin pulled yet another of his publicity stunts at the Dewan Rakyat last week. Malaysians, it seems, just have to expect him to utter outrageous remarks. 

Last week, the recalcitrant politician was grabbing the headlines again for the wrong reason. He doesn’t really deserve the publicity but the media find it difficult not to report on any verbal slugfest in Parliament. 

In the clash with Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh, he charged that the opposition politician’s use of a wheelchair was a punishment from God. 

Badruddin’s remarks were uncalled for and although he has apologised and retracted his remarks, he should not be let off without any warning from his Umno leaders. 

This is not the first time he has taken on the court jester’s role and we can assume it won’t be the last, unless he is not picked to contest in the next general election, or he loses his seat. 

He has provoked a woman MP by asking “what type of man would last with someone like the MP from Batu Gajah?” and blamed women with “indecent clothes” for rape, forgetting that those wearing the tudung (headscarf) and even grandmothers are among the victims. 

Badruddin has reportedly also used vulgar words in the Dewan Rakyat, a reminder made by Karpal Singh, which led to the clash between the two. 

Lacking in finesse 

During the heated debate, he said the DAP leader was in no position to lecture him as the latter had called MPs “animals”.  

Dia panggil orang binatang, dia panggil macam-macam. Yang Berhormat sendiri kena bersopan santun kalau mahu ajar orang, kalau Yang Berhormat sendiri pun dah perangai macam itu dengan berkerusi roda, ini Tuhan telah tunjukkan kepada Yang Berhormat.” 

That led to an uproar, with other opposition MPs joining in the fray, and both sides trading accusations, saying the remark was an affront to the disabled, and with Badruddin telling Karpal Singh that “kepala Yang Berhormat sudah jem tak baik, tak baik”. 

Meanwhile, Karpal Singh kept repeating the profanity used by Badruddin, saying it was in the Hansard despite the latter’s denial. 

Such disregard for parliamentary decorum is most disappointing. Badruddin is not the only one, because the other elected representatives who lack finesse, or class, to put it clearly, include Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) and Datuk Mohd Said Yusuf (BN-Jasin). 

They are an embarrassment to the Barisan Nasional and the Government. They may make headlines but Malaysians expect better quality debate from our legislators. To put it bluntly, they are making a fool of themselves and, as taxpayers, we are not amused that we are paying their allowances. 

Of course, some Opposition MPs are no better. Karpal Singh is no angel and Badruddin is right in implying that the pot should not call the kettle black because the veteran politician also has a record of name-calling. Karpal Singh, he said, had used words like bodoh (stupid) and lembu (cow) on his fellow MPs. 

In fact, reporters covering the Dewan Rakyat will tell you that Karpal Singh does not do much research on his speeches but he makes the news because of his rhetoric in the Dewan Rakyat. Not to forget his suspensions and walkouts. 

Last year, PAS MP Abdul Fatah Harun created a ruckus when he said that women divorcees were gatal (randy), saying he noticed that single mothers did not look like they were sad about their divorce. 

He said this was based on his observation at gatherings and parties, adding that these women seemed to be gatal

The talk in the Dewan Rakyat lobby and canteen, among the lawmakers and press, is that some of these MPs from rural and semi-rural constituencies are not the least worried about being criticised by the English press or bloggers. 

Their supporters reason that they have a grip on their rural voters and that their rhetoric has no political backlash at all as such news do not reach their voters. 

If this is the reasoning, this assumption is certainly an insult to their electorate because we would like to believe that the voters would also judge them on their parliamentary performance and not merely be grateful for their contributions to the village functions. 

Same old excuse 

Malaysian voters are also tired of MPs who give the excuse that when they argue aggressively in the Dewan Rakyat, they are doing so to defend their race and religion. Such justification, to intimidate opponents, is unwarranted. 

The irony of last week’s controversy was that it started off with Karpal Singh attacking the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of being irrelevant, claiming there were now perompak (robbers) and conmen in the party. 

With parliamentary privilege before him, he named the leaders in that category and, within minutes, he had moved on to Badruddin on the question of conduct. Or misconduct, as we think so. 

As Malaysians, we have a reminder for our politicians – think before you speak. Use your head because utterances which smack of insensitivity and ignorance can be used against you during the polls.