Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Today, Malaysians got a glimpse of the best and worst of what their Members of Parliament can offer.
Both elected representatives who were in the limelight were from Sabah but their performance was as different as night and day.
In the best tradition of standing up to the drivel from the front bench was Kalabakan MP Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh. Usually, the BN backbenchers go easy on their ministers and deputy ministers from the ruling coalition but Abdul Ghapur threw away that convention after hearing Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar give a tepid, and frankly ridiculous explanation on why the Malaysian government was slow to react to the invasion by Sulu fighters into Sabah.
Since the intruders were from Philippines, the government had to consult Manila in the spirit of Asean, said the deputy minister.
"We needed to cooperate with them before doing anything, " he said, not expecting what was to happen next.
Ghapur hit back: "If someone enters my home with weapons, and on top of that, bullies me, will I negotiate? Of course I won't. I will take my shotgun and shoot him.
"This was an intrusion which means we were lackadaisical and to top it we let them negotiate."
He said that he had spoken in the House before about lax security along the Sabah coastline but little was done.
Wan Junaidi said that the government had put in place certain measures and could guarantee the safety of Sabahans with the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone.
To which Ghapur replied: "But we don't feel it is guaranteed. We don't want you to say that our safety is guaranteed."
Good show, Ghapur. This is what constituents expect of their elected representatives - to articulate issues which are important to them and not be put off by stock answers.
Sabahans remain upset at Putrajaya's handling of the Lahad Datu incident, especially the length of time it took for the government to use force against the Sulu fighters.
Initially, the then Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein dismissed the Sulu fighters as old men. Even today, Sabahans are skeptical on the government's ability to police the coast effectively.
So as their man in Parliament, they would have expected Ghapur to shoot down the public relations drivel which was served up by Wan Junaidi and he did not disappoint.
In contrast, shameful is the word that should be used to describe the performance of Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin.
He abused his parliamentary privilege to attack Azran Osman Rani, Air Asia X chief executive officer.
The latter had criticised Utusan Malaysia for its incendiary headline "Apa lagi Cina mahu" which accompanied an article slamming the Chinese community for deserting the BN despite being given many concessions.
Utusan Malaysia and several right-wing Umno politicians then took aim at Azran and the airline, even organizing a boycott of the airline.
In Parliament today, Bung Mokhtar called Azran names and told him to leave the country for daring to criticise the Umno-owned newspaper.
This approach is wrong on several levels.
The MP knows that he has absolute privilege and can rest easy knowing that Azran has no legal recourse against him. The airline executive was not even in the House.
Secondly, how is a spat between a newspaper and an individual a matter which deserves Parliament's attention.
Thirdly, Utusan is a newspaper and not a good one at that. If Umno members want to put it on a pedestal, good luck to them. But it does not enjoy any special privileges.
Finally, no one has the right to force a Malaysian to leave the country. Not the King. Not the PM. Not Perkasa. And definitely not a shoot-from-the-hip MP. - July 2, 2013.