Parliament should be a place where questions are asked and answers honestly given
PARLIAMENT is nothing if not a debating chamber -- an essential function if it is to be relied on to make rigorous law. As a manifestation of democracy, the chamber is also intended as an arena of adversarial politics. Members of parliament and assemblymen should be open to questions and to providing answers in an environment the Constitution designed expressly for frankness and transparency. In the fracas that broke out in the Malacca state assembly on Tuesday, the five DAP assemblymen who were later suspended were unclear on the concept of parliamentary democracy and the decorum it entails. Rather than eloquently answering a question, they chose antics, which in the judgment of Speaker Datuk Othman Muhamad, demeaned and disrupted the orderly running of the House. As the opposition, DAP has amply done its job of making all sorts of accusations against the governing parties. It should then be game enough to take as much as it gives. For it is not for politicians to worry about exploiting whatever lawful means at hand to undermine the credibility of their foes.
That said, the BN assemblyman is perfectly entitled to enquire on a subject of intense gossip, rumour and speculation concerning a senior political figure. Of course, the aim is to inflict damage on the other side, something which any politician worthy of the name will take advantage of. Would not a DAP counterpart do the same? It is a pity that the party should deflect the question by attacking the questioner. Why can't the question from the BN representative not be answered straightforwardly? That will be the issue plaguing friends and detractors alike. Now a done deal, however, those they purport to represent must know that their choice of immature representatives is a disservice to them and the country's political system.
This is not an isolated case of DAP ineptitude, which seems to have been heightened by the party's improved performance in 2008. In the Penang government's monthly publication, Buletin Mutiara, photographs of the party's Lim dynasty appeared embarrassingly on almost every page. This has been preposterously explained away as a technical glitch. Nevertheless, it behoves the party to ensure that such "glitches" do not occur. In short, what the Malacca state assembly and other incidents demonstrate is DAP's hypocrisy, showing it up as, at best, an incompetent player of democratic politics and, at worst, a bunch of charlatans pretending to be democratic. Some of the party's older stalwarts have done memorably well as a check and balance to government. They should teach their younger ones to be as decent and dignified.