Live TV Coverage Brings Parliament 'Circus' To The Bedroom
The key players are oldtimers like Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor), Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan), Datuk Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading), Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS-Marang), Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) and Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur).
The new kids on the block include Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau), Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (BN-Jerlun), Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak), Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) and Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PKR-Machang).
The high temperature in parliament was due to the political tsunami from the last general election where Barisan Nasional (BN) only won 140 seats of the 222 seats with 82 going to the opposition, thus losing the two-thirds majority.
Veterans Karpal Singh and Datuk Bung Moktar turned parliament into a circus when they traded barbs, calling each other names like 'bigfoot' and 'big monkey', resulting in only three questions answered during the question and answer session.
Karpal: "I hope that the 'bigfoot' from Kinabatangan will not disturb me. 'Bigfoot' sit down".
Bung Moktar: "I dare you to stand. If I am 'bigfoot', you are 'big monkey'," he told off Karpal who kept questioning the manner a member of parliament (MP) had taken his oath.
The name calling did not end there as Karpal then dragged seasoned politician Ibrahim Ali into the fray calling him 'frog' for contesting on a PAS ticket but remaining an independent.
It all broke loose on the first day of the parliament sitting where RTM1 made live coverage for 30 minutes, keeping many Malaysians glued to the TV sets.
After this episode, several quarters called on the government to review the rationale of the live coverage aimed at proving its media transparency with some calling for it to be scrapped.
The Cabinet then decided that the live coverage should continue while the MPs were advised to behave properly and choose their words carefully.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and his two deputies Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Datuk Ronald Kiandee had been likened to headmasters trying to control a bunch of schoolchildren.
Some of Pandikar Amin's decisions had caused dissatisfaction to Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah), Chong Chieng Jan (DAP-Bandar Kuching) and Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) who were ejected and suspended from questioning them.
The entry of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim into parliament replacing wife Datin Seri Wan Azizah Ismail as opposition leader in August only served to crank up the heat in the Dewan Rakyat.
Anwar, who won the Permatang Pauh seat vacated by Wan Azizah, wasted little time in making his presence felt by claiming that some BN MPs would switch to the opposition enabling him to form the federal government on Sept 16.
His claim that at least 13 BN MPs from East Malaysia would jump ship fueled talks of a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, prompting calls for an anti party-hopping law.
It turned out to be a bluff as no BN MPs had defected except for Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun (BN-Sepanggar) and Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui (BN-Tawau), who quit Parti Maju Sabah (SAPP) to become independents.
The Dewan Rakyat was also at the centre of a boycott by the media as pressmen were barred from making coverage in the lobby area.
The boycott was called off after government backbenchers stepped in by cutting the ribbon put up to prevent pressmen from entering the lobby. (Bernama)
***** While we cannot expect a C-Span type of coverage in Malaysia, the present live telecast is a good first step.