A recent video and photo showing PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being friendly with several Umno lawmakers in the MPs lounge in Parliament has raised eyebrows and led to speculation about political manoeuvres.
But many others have pointed out that it is quite common for MPs to put aside their political differences and just…well, get along.
It is, in fact, common in the Dewan Rakyat for lawmakers to clash and fiercely defend their opinions, but for them to be friendly in the MPs’ lounge, which is right next to the august Hall.
Sometimes while trading barbs, MPs often joke that they can talk things over while having tea in the MPs’ lounge.
Nothing untoward about the photo, going viral, showing Anwar chatting with former Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, Parit Sulong MP and Wanita Umno chief Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad, and Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, among others.
Or of the 49-second viral video which showed Hishammuddin, Anwar and Nazri laughing and joking with one another.
Some people are trying to portray the photo and video in a negative light, claiming that it indicates MPs are about to jump ship, especially in light of the claim by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council member Datuk A Kadir Jasin that there is a possibility that as many as 40 lawmakers from Umno might join Bersatu.
Nazri, however, brushed these claims and said there was nothing to read into the picture and video.
“It was just coincidental. I was talking to Hishammuddin at one table and Anwar came in with his Korean friends and sat behind me.
“Only later did we notice that Anwar was there, and we turned and talked to him.
“Anwar has not seen Hishammuddin since the last election, so that is all to it – old friends,” the Padang Renggas MP told The Star.
Nazri, who was the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Parliament affairs, said the culture of MPs being friendly was not new.
He said he had practised cross-party consultation with lawmakers from both sides of the divide when he was minister in charge of Parliament.
“This is something I have been doing all these years, since 2003. I am like that. There is nothing new.
“This is very common in Parliament, to be honest. When I became the Minister in charge of Parliament, I introduced this culture of MPs mixing around and not to be seen separated by their political leanings.
“So it has been practised over the years now,” he added.
Abdul Azeez, too, said it was normal for MPs to bond, whatever their political differences.
“Don’t blow it out of proportion,” he said.
First-term Pakatan Harapan lawmaker Maria Chin Abdullah, too, agreed that there was nothing unusual.
“All of them talk to each other outside the Dewan. I speak to the opposition lawmakers, too, but it does not mean we do not differ,” said the MP for Petaling Jaya.
Meanwhile, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil took to Facebook to say, “I can tell you firsthand that most MPs who are ferocious in the Dewan can be actually chummy in the lounge or outside the Dewan.
“A few days ago, YB Pasir Salak (Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman) and YB Tanjung Karang (Tan Sri Noh Omar), for example, were ‘barking’ and shouting at me for some reason or another in the Dewan; we met outside and we were laughing the whole fracas off.
“In other words, the lounge is an open space that allows us to reach across the aisle, to speak informally and be generally friendly with each other,” he posted on Facebook on Friday. – The Star