PETALING JAYA: A former MP has admonished newly elected representatives to the lower house for engaging in shouting matches or spewing foul language, saying this is not the way forward.
Charles Santiago said it was possible that such tactics were employed to draw attention to themselves and to show to their constituents that they were committed to specific issues.
He spoke of “passionate” MPs on both sides of the divide, and said this is why it would be helpful if the Speaker’s office organises training for the new MPs to guide them through the standing orders.
“There’s a blue book that outlines the do’s and the don’ts. It provides the modus operandi on conducting business in Parliament,” he told FMT.
The former Klang MP was commenting on the shouting match that erupted in the Dewan Rakyat after Perikatan Nasional’s Arau MP, Shahidan Kassim, questioned deputy prime minister Fadillah Yusof for invoking the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay rulers’ names in tabling the motion of confidence in the prime minister.
Santiago also said the Speaker could play a part in ensuring that proceedings remained calm by issuing stern warnings to MPs who were out of line.
Former Speaker Ariff Md Yusof said the office had previously discussed several plans to “bolster” existing rules. This included introducing a code of conduct and amending the standing orders and certain provisions.
“We must impose more stringent penalties as existing punishments don’t bite. The draft is there, it is a matter of tweaking (the rules) to suit our requirements,” he said.
Ariff, who was the Speaker for two years, suggested a maximum fine of RM20,000, an extended suspension period, and forfeiting a portion of the MP’s allowance during suspension.
However, former Sungai Benut MP Tawfik Ismail questioned the need to govern conduct in the lower house if “we believe in free speech and a robust democracy”.
“The House should govern itself as its occupants may change every few years,” he said.
Former law minister Nazri Aziz said while some members could go to extremes, there were laws to rein them in.
“Regulating behaviour is difficult as this is cultivated from an early age,” he said. “Voters may have also elected MPs for their behaviour, but these MPs can be punished under the law for incitement to riot and other offences under the criminal code.”