ISKANDAR PUTERI: The state assembly sitting here became heated for a brief moment after a backbencher recited a series of ‘pantun’, which drew the ire of opposition lawmakers.
Ali Mazat Salleh (BN - Bukit Permai) was speaking during the 2018 Budget debate when he began to recite a pantun that read ‘anak Cina memasang lukah, lukah dipasang di Sungai Senai, mulut busuk bila bermadah, tuduhan jahat buruk perangai'.
He proceeded to recite a series of ‘pantun’ that began with the words ‘anak Cina’ (Chinese child).
This did not sit well with several opposition lawmakers, including Gan Peck Cheng (DAP-Penggaram), Tan Hong Pin (DAP-Mengkibol) and Yeo Tung Siong (DAP-Pekan Nenas), who stood up in protest.
Yeo asked Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Aziz to eject Ali from the assembly, saying the ‘pantun’ were racist in nature.
Ali replied that it was just a ‘pantun’ and that Ali had the right to say what he wanted. The speaker then told Ali to proceed with his speech.
The opposition lawmakers continued to express their dissatisfaction, with Gan saying that the pantun were not in line with the Bangsa Johor concept.
The tense situation lasted for several minutes before Ali proceeded with his speech with another series of ‘pantun’, where he substituted ‘anak Cina’ with ‘anak Ali’.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the assembly, Ali said he did not intend to insult anyone or stir up racial sentiments.
“I just took an old pantun, which had been around for decades, and used it today. There is no issue of me insulting any race or anybody.”
He said he hoped all state assemblymen would act rationally in handling the issue.
“Everybody in Malaysia should understand each other’s cultures and customs to avoid any misunderstanding,” said Ali.