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‘Tight’ nurses’ uniforms reveal opposition’s lamentable performance in Parliament

Opposition MPs appear more interested in scoring trivial political points than doing what the job requires of them

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Recently we were treated to a brouhaha in Parliament when the right honourable member for Kuantan, Wan Razali Wan Nor, pointed out that nurses’ uniforms were “tight”, thus “showing their body shape”.

The episode triggered a round of disdain among the public

The MP from the opposition Perikatan Nasional coalition made this ‘observation’ during a debate on the health white paper in the House of Representatives.

Wan Razali should have highlighted more pressing concerns, such as the plight of healthcare workers or the lack of healthcare accessibility for the marginalised. Instead, he raised a non-issue, as the nurses’ uniforms had been used for decades with no fuss. How depressing!

Then again, this latest episode is hardly surprising: it is just the latest in a long series of cringeworthy moments in Parliament.

The current crop of opposition MPs have failed to impress many observers with their embarrassing performances in Parliament.

Some might compare the nurses’ uniforms episode to the recent performance by Jocelyn Chia, who really should have stuck it out in her old job, whatever it was, instead of becoming a comedian.

The opposition bench in Parliament is supposed to serve as an effective counter to the government’s side of the aisle.

During the debate on the white paper on health, opposition MPs could have raised civil society’s concerns about what ails our healthcare system. They could have put forward alternative proposals to repair the system, thus showing they have what it takes to govern the country.

Unfortunately, they turned such an important debate into a circus.

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Tragically, they are sleeping on the job while being funded by the public.

Someone needs to remind these MPs about their role.

First, their job is to scrutinise the government of the day. This means knuckling down to the serious business of analysing policies rather than aspiring to become comedians.

Leave comedy to the professionals. Come to the House with tough, substantial questions that serve the public interest.

Unfortunately, the opposition MPs appear more interested in scoring trivial political points than doing what the job requires of them.

Second, and at its simplest, the job of opposition MPs is to attend Parliament and take part in debates on policies, legislation and issues that affect the people.

Who will step into the shoes of giants such as the late Tan Chee Khoon or the late Karpal Singh, whose masterful performances in Parliament are the stuff of legends? Then there’s another stalwart, Lim Kit Siang, who for years personified the opposition.

These MPs dared to speak truth to power on behalf of the people. The current opposition MPs have much to learn from them.

Opposition MPs should realise that their role is crucial. They, along with the government backbenchers, have to check on the government of the day and be vigilant against abuse of power and corruption.

This responsibility should weigh heavily on these MPs, as they are tasked with safeguarding the public interest. They must take the responsibility entrusted to them seriously. The people are watching!

Parliament is not a place to advance sectarian interests, nor should it be turned into a circus.

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That said, this does not mean I am letting government MPs off the hook. I will discuss their performance in another piece.

For now though, the opposition must buck up.

Chris Chong
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
20 June 2023

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Khoo Soo Hay
Khoo Soo Hay
21 Jun 2023 9.55am

Why talk about the uniform dress of the nurses? Should not we be concerned about their work, and how we look after their interests so that they can work better? Why not wear a tent-like dress where you cannot look inside?

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