It is now up to the people to decide whether one party was genuinely trying to voice an objection while the other party behaved like, well, “monkey see, monkey do”, says Steven Sim.
Something strange happened in Parliament on 14 November 2013.
In the morning, Minister Nancy Shukri tabled a motion to suspend Padang Serai Member of Parliament N Surendran from Parliament for six months for insulting Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.
Surendran had on the previous day been ejected from the Dewan Rakyat for refusing to back off from debating on the demolition of the 101-year old Sri Muneswarar Kaliyamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur.
Pakatan Rakyat MPs stood up, tore the notice for the motion and created a commotion to prevent the motion from being read. They called it “usul haram” (illegitimate motion).
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In the evening, Fuziah Salleh, Pakatan Rakyat MP for Kuantan, tabled a motion to cut the salaries of special appointees in the Prime Minister’s Department amounting to RM1.6m.
The special appointees were Rais Yatim, Noh Omar, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Johari Baharom and Hasbi Habibollah.
Barisan Nasional MPs stood up, tore the notice for the motion and created a commotion to prevent the motion from being debated. They called it “usul haram” (illegitimate motion).
Both were seemingly similar acts leading some to call it a “tit-for-tat”. Some observers even criticised both parties for being “childish” and performing a “monkey show” in Parliament.
Were the two acts similar?
Have you heard the story of a guy who went to a café and ordered coffee without milk, and the waiter told him that they had run out of milk but since they had sugar, he could offer him coffee without sugar.
Coffee without milk and coffee without sugar. Both are essentially black coffee. But the negation is important. This is a case of “serupa, tapi tak sama” (look alike, but not the same).
Or perhaps a better illustration, a rich person on a diet and a poor hungry person are both starving – but for very different reasons.
What then were the reasons behind the Pakatan and BN antics?
Pakatan’s reasons for rejecting the motion
A couple of MPs stood up to present their views, but Lim Kit Siang, the MP for Gelang Patah, was in full form arguing three reasons why Nancy Shukri’s motion should be rejected:
1) It did not fulfil the one-day notice required by Standing Order 27;
2) In order for the one-day notice to be allowed, instead of the regular seven-day notice, the speaker must be satisfied that the matter is of public interest. In this case, there is no clear public interest involved. Even if there is public interest, the matter should be referred to the parliamentary Committee of Privileges to be investigated; and
3) There is a conflict of interest as the speaker who allowed the motion to be tabled is a party to the issue at hand, since the motion is on the issue of “insulting the speaker”.
BN’s reasons for rejecting the opposition’s motion
What then were the reasons for the BN to reject Fuziah’s motion?
Bung Mokhtar, the BN member for Kinabatangan, claimed that Fuziah’s motion wrongly designated Hasbi Habibollah as Sarawak Development Adviser when he is the chairperson of the Sarawak Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board.
It was explained to the Dewan Rakyat that the error of designation was in the accompanying documents and not in the notice of the motion per se, and hence this was no reason to annul the motion.
So was it a monkey show by both sides?
BN tabled a motion to suspend an MP for trying to bring up an issue concerning the people, in this case relating to a 101-year old Hindu temple.
Pakatan tabled a motion to deduct the salaries of BN politicians and former politicians given “special appointments” in the Prime Minister’s Department, with salaries amounting to RM1.6m.
Pakatan rejected BN’s motion due to substantial discrepancies and injustice in the said motion.
BN rejected Pakatan’s motion because there was an error of designation for one of the five special appointees mentioned.
It is now up to the people to judge whether both BN and Pakatan performing “monkey shows” in Parliament on 14 November.
Or, whether one party was genuinely trying to voice a true objection while the other party behaved like, well, “monkey see, monkey do”?
Steven Sim is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam.