Several BN MPs claim that their opposition counterparts engage in too much rhetoric, but the minister says this is what makes Parliament exciting.
Welcoming the opposition’s rhetoric with open arms, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said: “I’m fine and comfortable with what they’re doing now.”
“I don’t think we should compare ourselves to Parliaments of other countries.
“I’ve been in Parliament for four terms, and this is the Parliament that is most enjoyable for me. It’s a very feisty and active Parliament, and I’m happy,” he told FMT with a smile.
The Padang Rengas (Umno) MP said the Dewan Rakyat ran the risk of being “very boring” if all MPs did was talk about facts.
“I think we should have some rhetoric. We should have some fun. We should have some teasing and facts… otherwise it’ will be very boring. Everyone will be talking facts. Very boring. I don’t think that’s the kind of Parliament we want,” he said.
However, Jerlun MP (Umno) Mukhriz Mahathir expected better of the federal opposition MPs and was disappointed with their conduct.
“It’s funny, because I think they’ve got good calibre people but somehow even the good ones get taken up by the political rhetoric.
“I think they start acting out of character. So it’s very disheartening to see that happen. When they get that way, some of our own guys (BN MPs) also react similarly,” he said.
Mukhriz added that spats between BN and Pakatan Rakyat MPs often escalated into unnecessary bickering, which did not reflect well on Parliament’s visitors.
The international trade and industry deputy minister said the opposition was supposed to be a “serious” check-and-balance against the government of the day.
“The opposition has a very important role to keep us, the government, on the straight and narrow path. I wish they will be sincere in that role, rather than politicise every single thing,” he added.
Keen on staging walk-outs
“There’s a time and place for constructive criticism, helping out and suggesting policies.
“They’ve shown themselves to be generally deficient in that part of being an opposition… Some of them are okay, [but] some of them are, I think, just there for the sake of criticising, and not being helpful in terms of debating on policies,” he said.
Khairy added that a number of opposition lawmakers seemed to take their role too far, by merely opposing BN MPs at every turn.
Instead of coming up with alternative policies, he said Pakatan MPs seemed more interested in staging walk-outs when things did not go in their favour.
“I think people are fed up with that. I think people want to see them engage much more,” he said.
Adding to the matter, Johor Baru MP (Umno) Shahrir Samad said that while the large number of Pakatan MPs made the House more interesting, the tone of debates had become more “no-holds-barred”.
“Everything or anything is fair game [these days]. And it doesn’t matter. Everything is political, and it may not be so healthy,” he said.
Elected since 1978, Shahrir said MPs should be working together to find solutions to national issues instead of playing partisan politics.
In one example, he criticised Pakatan for staying out of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Lynas rare earth plant near Kuantan.
“Even if you have a differing point of view, that should not be the excuse [for staying out] of this select committee, because you should record your point of view,” he said.
Have proper shadow cabinet
Shahrir also pointed out the fuss made by Pakatan over the alleged leak of military documents, a matter which was filed (and later rejected) as a motion in Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia’s chambers previously.
“If the Speaker is given a document…[it would have to be] a specific matter, rather than just a general statement that there are official documents leaked out or made available to the courts.
“When you want to exploit it for [coverage] on YouTube or in the media, and you want to raise something… since it was rejected [it would give the impression] that there was something to hide.
“That’s not necessarily the case,” he said.
Also offering a differing stance was Temerloh MP (Umno) Saifuddin Abdullah, who said that both sides of Malaysia’s political divide saw good and bad debates.
“Like anywhere else and my side of the House, there are some not very [good debates]. [But] I would say good debates come from both sides.
“I have always considered them as worthy opponents,” said the deputy higher education minister.
Saifuddin added it would help if the opposition appointed a “proper” shadow cabinet to take on BN MPs.