An insulting remark that caused a stir in the Dewan Rakyat.
A heated exchange between backbenchers and the opposition over the holy ash on RSN Rayer’s (PH-Jelutong) forehead culminated in the Speaker ordering two MPs out of the Dewan Rakyat chamber for two days.
Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff ordered Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) and Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) out of the Dewan Rakyat after both refused to adhere to instructions as they argued over the propriety of Tajuddin’s remark.
The order was the culmination of an almost half-hour exchange between Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs and backbenchers after Tajuddin poked fun at the holy ash or vibhuthi worn by Rayer.
“Are those ashes the ashes of Chin Peng?” Tajuddin asked, provoking anger among the backbenchers in the chamber.
Rayer told Ariff that what Tajuddin said is an insult to the Hindu community.
“Ask him to apologise. BN is insulting the Hindus,” said Rayer, who was backed by his partyman Sivakumar Naidu (PH-Batu Gajah).
Vibhuti is the sacred ash made of burnt dried wood in Āgamic rituals.
Hindu devotees apply it traditionally as three horizontal lines across the forehead.
Meanwhile, Chin Peng’s ashes were brought back in September and scattered in Perak.
The reaction from the backbenchers compelled Tajuddin to retract his remarks.
But the opposition, particularly Umno members, demanded Rayer, who made a sweeping remark about BN insulting all Indians, retract his comments.
This started another round of shouting with Rayer telling Ariff that Tajuddin was part of the BN bloc and what he had said was fair comment.
“Why do I have to retract what I said? It is fair comment,” said Rayer.
By now, the chamber turned rowdy as both sides traded barbs with Tajuddin engaging in a heated exchange with Khoo, Rayer and Ramkarpal Singh (PH-Bukit Gelugor).
Ariff managed to end the shouting match but Khoo refused to relent.
Not willing to tolerate the argument any longer, Ariff instructed the duo to leave the chamber.
“I don’t want to hear anything related to it anymore. Do not disrupt the meeting; please sit down. Ruling has already been made. This is too much. Kota Melaka, Pasir Salak, you are ejected (and suspended) for two days. Pasir Salak (is being ejected) for disturbing the meeting (and) Kota Melaka for disobeying the Speaker.”
Khoo protested and said: “I want to put on record that this is not the way to protect the sanctity of the Dewan (Rakyat).”
The visibly upset Ariff replied: “I don’t have a problem with that (Khoo’s statement) being recorded.”
“It’s okay to be ejected,” said Tajuddin.
“I have the Umno general assembly to attend, anyway. Why not suspend me for four days instead?” he told Ariff before he left.
The entire exchange was played out in front of the delegation from the national congress of the Communist Party of China.
After Khoo and Tajuddin left, Ariff welcomed the Chinese delegation.
Tajuddin had in the past been ejected from the chamber for disrupting the meeting and was recently involved in an argument with fellow Barisan Nasional (BN) MP Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Mohamed Said at the parliament lobby.
At a press conference later, Khoo said he had attempted to raise a point of order to defend the Dewan Rakyat’s dignity against such statements with the tendency to incite racial-religious tension.
“Why did I insist? Because we always see how he (Tajuddin) agrees to retract his statements, but the way he does it seems insincere and not serious.
“When the Speaker ordered him to leave for two days, he said can even add more days as he has to attend the Umno AGM,” said Khoo.
“That is an insult to the Speaker and the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.
Ramkarpal also that Tajuddin had crossed the line, and the DAP will discuss whether they will file a motion for further action to be taken.
A MIC Youth leader has since urged Tajuddin to apologise to all Malaysians practising the Hindu religion.
“Tajuddin’s action does not reflect at all the standards that should be possessed by someone who bears the title of Member of Parliament because clearly he does not respect the sensitivities of those in the Indian community who practise Hinduism in Malaysia.
“This does not only shame the Dewan Rakyat, but also BN as a whole because there are racist BN MPs like Tajuddin, even though we always claim that BN is a party for all Malaysians regardless of race or religious background,” said Arvind Krishnan, who is the MIC Youth political bureau chief.
He said it would be better for Tajuddin to step down from his position if he cannot understand basic matters such as this.
Meanwhile, Batu MP P Prabakaran said it is not appropriate to make fun of the culture and religion of someone, especially those of a parliamentarian.
“Guaranteeing friendly relations among various races and religions is the responsibility of an MP.
“Any examples which can muddy the situation and worsen the relationship among races and religions in this country should be avoided,” he said.