A parliament of baboons?

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If our MPs are more like baboons than lawmakers, our country will continue to slide down the slippery slope.

Baboons are the loudest and least intelligent among primates, making them the most obnoxious, dangerous and viciously aggressive. Human beings may be the most intelligent of all primates, but many of our members of parliament (MPs) have acted like baboons in the august house.

The collective noun for a group of baboons is called a troop. What do you call a group of MPs behaving in such a crass manner that would elevate our beloved orangutan to gentleman status? Answer: a parliament of baboons!

Speaking in a recent joint conference organised by the Bar Council and Bersih on “Gearing Up for GE-15: What Reforms Do Voters Want” in Session 8 regarding “Speaker, Deputy Speakers and Standing Orders: Key Reforms for an Independent and Functioning Parliament”, former minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan said MPs need to be taught manners.

Several years ago, he made such a proposal to former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, but it wasn’t taken up. He is now suggesting that the current Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat brief MPs on etiquette before the start of every parliamentary session so that they are reminded on how to behave appropriately in Parliament.


He said “The first thing the Speaker should do at the start of every session is to have a short course for MPs on etiquette, how to behave and what the rules are. They don’t trust anyone, they don’t trust the government, the backbenchers, ministers, the speaker, and it is because of this mentality that we always have constant chaos during parliamentary sessions.”

While human beings should have self-esteem, politicians are conceited and egoistic. Their focus is on winning party and general elections and are willing to sell their soul to the devil just to gain votes for position, and along with-it power, fame, money and indulgences.

And the easiest path is to create and fight imaginary enemies by defending race and religion instead of real issues that require both brainpower and hard work. It is much easier to sway the emotions of voters than appeal to their intellect.

Politicians are always looking for opportunities to be in the limelight. They are quick to take offence even when no offence was meant and could make a mountain out of a molehill, without realising their reactions are best reflections of themselves.

However, such narratives have brought more harm to the very community they claim to champion but these fit into their plans, as citizens that remain backward will continue to depend on politicians to fight for things, they want but may never get.

Throughout the millennia, religions spread around the world because race was inconsequential and true religious leaders do not champion any race. Politicians claiming to fight for race and religion are actually making use of ethnicity and belief to empower and enrich themselves.

Above all, dignity is the most important for them, even if they have brought regress to our nation. And self-proclamation or praise by blind supporters do not determine how good a politician is. Just like everyone else, a politician is only as good as how he or she treats others.

But if our MPs are more like baboons than lawmakers, our country will continue to slide down the slippery slope. Many do not realise that a person is not educated without showing courtesy, however learned that he or she may be.

Our Rukun Negara was declared officially in 1970 and since then millions of schoolchildren have memorised it including the fifth principle, which is courtesy and morality. But many do not practise them and children learn mostly from examples shown by parents and leaders.

Could a short course for MPs on etiquette and how to behave and what the rules are as suggested by Abdul Rahman Dahlan work? Could leopards change their spots, or our Malaysian tigers change their stripes?

The views expressed here are strictly those of YS Chan from Kuala Lumpur.