What fuels circus-like atmosphere in Dewan Rakyat?

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Ibrahim has already cautioned all MPs and Senators to uphold decorum and use polite language during debates.

25 Mar 2024 01:36pm
Photo for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Photo for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Ibrahim has cautioned all Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators to uphold decorum and use polite language during debates.

This warning comes in light of ongoing incidents of disruptions and verbal clashes between government and Opposition MPs, particularly during Dewan Rakyat sessions, giving the impression of a circus-like atmosphere.

Why should such behavior occur in a mature legislative body?

Is it due to a lack of professionalism among MPs or the Speaker's failure to maintain control?

University Malaya's Public Administration and Development Studies lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub attributed the parliamentary chaos to MPs vying for attention and seeking to enhance their public image.

"In the government bloc, MPs strive to stand out to the Prime Minister in hopes of garnering more attention from party or government leadership.

"Consequently, some MPs, including those from the opposition, resort to disruptive behaviour to gain publicity and media attention," he told Sinar.

Tawfik stressed that the country cannot afford to have low-quality MPs who ultimately harm the public interest.

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He noted that such behaviour wastes national resources, as MPs receive salaries and allowances without contributing to progress or generating new ideas.

He advocated for strict disciplinary action, such as barring MPs from participating in debates for 14 days.

He also slammed the Speaker for perceived leniency, urging stricter enforcement of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's directives to ensure parliamentary maturity instead of ongoing disruptions.

In a related matter, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu's Research Fellow at Literacy and Political Advocacy Unit Associate Professor Dr Mohd Yusri Ibrahim echoed concerns about MPs disregarding Sultan Ibrahim's directive.

"Uncivilised behavior among MPs continues, making the Dewan Rakyat noisy and sometimes embarrassing," he said.

To address this issue, Yusri suggested the need for effective leadership from MPs, the Speaker, and the Deputy Speaker.

He urged MPs to recognise their responsibility as representatives of the people and conduct themselves with dignity, considering the impact of their actions on public perception, especially among schoolchildren.

He also called on MPs to engage in mature, intelligent, and constructive debates that prioritize the interests of the people and the nation.

He stressed the importance of thorough preparation to ensure the quality and value of legislative discussions, along with effective communication to convey messages clearly.

On the role of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, Yusri highlighted the importance of enforcing parliamentary rules and using existing powers to penalise MPs who disrupt proceedings and undermine the dignity of the House.

He noted that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has endorsed the Speakers' authority to take action.