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When fair is foul and foul is fair

Tajuddin Rahman

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Kasthuri Patto should have seen it coming after her verbal skirmishes with the Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker yesterday.

The Batu Kawan MP was removed from the chamber after she refused to accept Rashid Hasnon’s ruling on the alleged curse words spewed by Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Rahman.

The MP had made sexist remarks, including calling women DAP MPs “rude” and “indecent”, during the debate on the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill last week.

A lawmaker of some time now, Kasthuri should have known that no matter how foul the language used by her fellow MPs, particularly men, it does not count for much as long as it was not recorded by the Hansard or it was expressed when the microphone was switched off.

In other words, it was as good as Kasthuri being physically out of the Lower House while Tajuddin voiced the expletives.

Actually, it makes sense for Rashid to have thrown her out so that she would not be able to hear those supposedly filthy words. As the old adage has it, out of sight, out of mind.

Besides, parliamentary decorum would be seriously violated if the two opposing MPs were to trade barbs like two runaway trains “kissing” each other.

The chair and his deputy of the House of Representatives are well known for zealously guarding the dignity and integrity of the august chamber from being sullied by any action of MPs that could be deemed undemocratic and unjust.

It would have further enhanced our parliamentary standards and practices if both combative MPs had instead chosen to kiss and make up. (And perhaps go to a durian fest after the reconciliation.)

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Besides, in a male-dominated world, women, particularly MPs, should expect and accept the wayward behaviour of their male counterparts as part of our political culture. Additionally, men are naturally domineering, a fact that the Deputy Speaker would surely be aware of and appreciate.

That was why Tajuddin was not severely punished for his so-called unpleasant remarks during the debate on the bill.

Why, Tajuddin had in fact put his reputation – generally regarded in awe – on the line in his attempt to demonstrate to fellow MPs sexual harassment can occur in real life, and that an anti-sexual harassment law is indeed the solution.

To be sure, he was only carrying out his duty as a conscientious MP, which certainly did not require, as he elegantly put it, a political move to sully his image.

It is, therefore, unfair of Kasthuri as well as her fellow DAP MPs to provoke the four-time Pasir Salak MP into indulging in the kind of behaviour that a self-respecting MP would shy away from.

Moreover, Tajuddin was cocksure the Deputy Speaker knew of and appreciated his noble intentions, which certainly did not deserve an ejection from the chamber or punishement as severe as an apology and the withdrawal of his “obscene” words, as unreasonably demanded by Kasthuri.

The kerfuffle only shows that parliamentary debates are to be conducted in a manner that is civil, which warrants diplomatic skills that Tajuddin has clearly acquired in recent times.

Such an incident in the Houes of Representatives should once and for all remove any doubt from our minds that Malaysia’s parliamentary sittings are well managed in the interest of the people and democracy that the institution represents. – The Malaysian Insight

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This commentary is satire

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