What would be the response of several million Koks in China to news that a Malaysian public official has insulted their family name?
Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, probably thought he was being smart and macho when, speaking in Parliament, he insulted Seputeh MP Teresa Kok. He was, of course, not the first prominent member of Umno-Baru to make an outrageous, racist, sexist and stupid remark in public.
These people claim that their party is the protector and defender of Malay dignity, but they are the ones most guilty of lowering the dignity of the Malays in the eyes of others.
How would he feel if someone were to point to him and say, “There goes another Umno man with no balls”?
It is outrageous that no woman MP from Umno-Baru stood up to condemn him.
But perhaps it’s more shocking that Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Ronald Kiandee found nothing wrong with Tajuddin’s remark, saying he was only referring to Kok’s surname.
Tajuddin would not apologise and Kiandee would not censure him. So they should not have been surprised when other MPs then took it upon themselves to call Tajuddin a boor and tag him with other unsavoury labels.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad called him a “sial” and few people felt sorry for Tajuddin, who said, “If my father and mother were alive today, how would they feel, hearing someone call me a sial?” A sial is someone who is cursed and damned.
Khalid was right to defend Kok. Referring to Tajuddin’s habit of wearing a songkok, he said he should be ashamed to continue doing so. In Malaysia, wearing a songkok is generally regarded as a mark of piety.
It is heartening to note that one Barisan Nasional representative decided to show she could not stomach Tajuddin’s crudeness. The Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Chew Mei Fun, who is a vice-president of MCA, described his “boorish behaviour” as a reflection of his “warped” mind.
“Such behaviour is least expected of a deputy minister,” she said.
It appears that children in the playground behave much better than some MPs do. MPs who behave like Tajuddin should be barred from Parliament and taught a lesson they would not forget easily.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.
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