Kinabatangan lawmaker Bung Moktar Radin said he was not out to insult or shame Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the Dewan Rakyat’s debate on Monday to remove the speaker.
The Barisan Nasional lawmaker said the manner in which he spoke, which appeared rough and crude towards the elderly statesman, was his typical way and “part his character” when debating in Dewan Rakyat.
“I had no intention of shaming anyone nor to belittle Dr Mahathir. I always respect Tun, he is a statesman,” Bung said in an interview, referring to Dr Mahathir’s honorific title.
“People think my remarks were an insult but that is part of the way I speak, it’s always been that way, that is who I am,” he added.
The five-term Umno MP from Sabah on Monday tag-teamed with Arau MP Shahidan Kassim to shout down Dr Mahathir, who disagreed with the motion to remove then Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.
It was the first day of the Parliament session and the house was debating the motion by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, which was later passed by a narrow margin of 111 to 109.
The 95-year-old Dr Mahathir, who was previously Bung’s leader in Umno, questioned the legitimacy of the motion.
He was heckled by Bung and Shahidan on Monday, with both saying Ariff would not have been replaced if Dr Mahathir had not quit as prime minister in February, leading to the change in government.
“It all started from Langkawi. The king had already advised him (against it) but he wanted to resign. So, we had to find another prime minister.
“We wanted Tun, but he decided to resign so just accept it. A new government has been formed, there is nothing wrong.
“Last time when Tun appointed Latheefa Koya to the MACC and Tommy Thomas as (attorney-general), we did not question it either.
“The prime minister just wants a speaker who is in line with the government in the interest of the people,” Bung said.
Dr Mahathir, who took the heckling calmly, said he resigned because he could not accept having his party Bersatu or Pakatan Harapan working with Umno.
Bung then fired back, “You taught us how to run Umno. We follow Tun’s teaching.”
The Kinabatangan MP’s remarks towards the older leader drew criticism for being disrespectful towards the two-time prime minister, whom even political rivals acknowledge as one who has modernised Malaysia.
The episode also sparked conversations on social media about how badly behaved and crude some MPs are representing their constituents.
Bung said he is aware of people’s views after watching the debate but defended himself by saying that he had “never been soft” when speaking in the house.
“I’ve read the views on social media, that I am disrespectful of other leaders. But for me, people should know that is the way I debate.
“I’ve not changed. If I were to suddenly speak gently, that is not Kinabatangan,” he said.
Bung has a record for triggering shouting matches among MPs, riling up the public and getting himself ejected from the Dewan Rakyat for his speech and behaviour.
These have included sexist remarks about menstrual cycles and an obscene hand gesture.
He also used the “F” word twice during a parliamentary debate in August 2018, earning a warning from the speaker.
Despite his reputation among urban citizens and social media users, Bung remains popular in his Kinabatangan constituency, which has among the lowest number of voters in Sabah.
In the 2018 general election, there were 28,730 voters, and he won by a landslide against two other candidates. – TMI