Malaysia's resurgent opposition flexed its new found muscles Wednesday, disrupting Parliament's first business session with noisy arguments as lawmakers from both sides traded insults and jeers. The record 82 opposition lawmakers who were elected to the 222-member Parliament in the March 8 elections shouted down, in one voice, ruling National Front coalition lawmakers in an argument over a technicality.
Karpal Singh, from the opposition Democratic Action Party, called National Front member Bung Mokhtar Radin a 'Bigfoot' who retaliated by calling Singh a 'Big Monkey'.
"This is not meant to be a shouting match!" yelled Speaker Pandikan Amin Mulia, trying to calm the screaming rival partisans who rose up to vociferously support Singh or Bung Mokhtar.
The chaotic scenes were shown live on national television, the first time proceedings are being broadcast, albeit only the first 30 minutes every day. The scenes looked more like the often-rambunctious parliament sessions of India or Taiwan rather than the sedate meetings that Malaysia has been used to for the last 51 years.
However, things have changed with 82 opposition members now in the house, compared to the 19 previously who had allowed the ruling National Front to operate without any fear of being shouted down.
Tuesday's pandemonium broke out as soon as the speaker opened the floor to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the question and answer session. Opposition members objected, saying most of the first questions had been allotted to National Front lawmakers.
Most of the first hour was a shouting match with Abdullah managing to answer only one question on race issues.
"This is a mockery of Parliament," said opposition Democratic Action Party leader Lim Kit Siang, a colleague of Singh. "There is a conspiracy to silence the voice of the 82 opposition parliamentarians."
"All Malaysians have focused their attention on this Parliament but many of you focus on pointless matters. You should be gentlemen and ladies who debate things that matter, not technicalities," said Pandikan Amin, the Parliament speaker.
The chaos got worse when Pandikan Amin refused to allow the opposition to ask the prime minister for follow-up explanations to his answer. (PR-Inside.com)
***** Let the pandemonium begin.