What’s So Special About Bung Moktar?

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The Dewan Rakyat speaker and his deputies should take action against the Kinabatangan MP to keep him from making inappropriate remarks in Parliament.

The failure of successive speakers to punish the bad boy of Parliament, Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin, says more about the speakers than the MP. Over the years, Bung Moktar has gotten away with many sexist and racist remarks in the Dewan Rakyat.

Why are the speakers and deputy speakers so reluctant to censure him by banning him from Parliament for a few months and handing him a hefty fine for his behaviour? They need to make an example of him and show other MPs that crudity will not be tolerated in the Dewan Rakyat.

What is so special about Bung Moktar that allows him to retract his remarks only to repeat them a few months later when he becomes unable to control his outbursts?

A student would not escape without punishment if he were to exhibit abusive behaviour or utter coarse, caustic, sexist or racist remarks at school. An employee who swears at his boss or his firm’s customers will be punished according to the procedures in the company’s human resources handbook.

Why should Bung Moktar be allowed, time after time, to let everyone down with his coarseness? He sets a bad example to those visiting Parliament as well as the public, including children who may be watching the parliamentary debates on TV. Even if the TV station has censored his outbursts, this is still an indication that the MP has done something wrong.

In June 2015, Bung Moktar made a sexist remark about Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin in Parliament, saying her “aggressive behaviour” would frighten her husband.

Salmah Ismail, who was a Wanita leader for PKR, demanded an apology as well as the MP’s resignation, saying he had insulted women everywhere.

This is not the first time Bung Moktar’s remarks have upset women throughout the nation. He claims he does not denigrate women because, in his opinion, he defends them and looks after the welfare of single mothers. If so, he has a strange way of showing his concern for women.

If MPs cannot be easily censured, perhaps the speaker is too timid for the important role he must play in Parliament. Or is he simply reluctant to punish errant MPs because he is afraid of confrontation?

We understand that the role of the speaker and, in his absence, his deputies, is to keep order and call MPs to speak during debates in the Dewan Rakyat.

He calls MPs to give their opinions on certain issues and, during debates, can direct an MP to withdraw remarks if vulgar or abusive language has been used. He also suspends disorderly or disobedient MPs.

He can demand that other MPs stay silent so that those in the Dewan can hear the ongoing debates. The speaker must also remain politically neutral.

Bung Moktar’s repeated sexist and racist remarks have no place in the new Malaysia. If the deputy speaker, who failed to handle this incident properly, is fearful or reluctant to discharge his duties, perhaps a new deputy speaker should be found. – FMT

(Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist and these are her personal views.)

You can read the original article here.