Photo by : APA
Raja Petra Kamarudin
This week, Padang Serai Member of Parliament N. Surendran was kicked out of Parliament and subsequently suspended for six months for defying the Parliament Speaker.
Surendran is not the first MP to suffer this fate. In fact, even Barisan Nasional MPs have also been disciplined in this fashion.
Basically, the Speaker has the final and absolute decision on who may speak and he or she has the power to discipline members who violate the procedures of the House.
Such are the powers of the Speaker.
I was watching the UK Parliament in session earlier this week and twice the Speaker stopped the debate and demanded that the MPs from both sides of the political divide stop shouting. Even the Prime Minister had to comply.
Normally, the Speaker will invite the MP to speak and only when the Speaker announces who is to speak does the MP stand up to speak. All the others are to remain seated and keep quiet. And if anyone shouts while the MP who has the floor speaks the Speaker can chide that person and if he or she does not listen then action can be taken against that person.
Sometimes, in the UK, too, the debates get out of hand but it is never allowed to descend to the level of a fish market like in Malaysia.
The bone of contention here is that the procedure in how action was taken against Surendran was not observed. The opposition says a one-day notice must be given before action can be taken. Hence it is an argument over technicalities.
That is the same reason why the Speaker stopped Surendran from speaking -- because he needed to give a two-day notice, which he did not. However, when asked to stop talking, he refused to do so -- ignoring the fact that the Speaker decides if you can or cannot speak.
Whether the Speaker was wrong is one issue, which the opposition is contesting. But whether Surendran was also wrong is a matter that the opposition does not wish to discuss.
Maybe to avoid such incidences in future all those elected into office should be made to attend a class regarding Parliament procedures and rules. After that they should sit for a test and if they fail they should be made to attend the class again. Only then will we have civilised MPs who do not turn Parliament into a circus. If not Parliament will look like a zoo during feeding time.