Tuesday 16 October 2012

Updated : 'Missing' women's minister causes a ruckus in House

  • Hazlan Zakaria
  • 2:21PM Oct 16, 2012
The conspicuous absence of acting Women, Family and Community Development Minister Najib Abdul Razak for his ministry's winding up of the 2013 Budget debate caused a ruckus in the Dewan Rakyat today, with riled up women MPs from Pakatan Rakyat blasting Najib.

fong po kuan and chong chien jen walkout suspended from parliament 061108 02Starting the ball rolling, Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah, left) stood up before Deputy Minister Heng Seai Kie could speak for the ministry, asking that the winding-up be put off until Najib could be present.

"Can we adjourn the speech until a convenient time, when the minister himself can be here?" the three-term MP asked.

Fong explained that she was sorry for Heng, a senator who has to bear the brunt of the winding-up and the ministry's duties while the minister himself was not around.

NONE Heng (right) responded with her own invectives, complaining that she felt let down by the opposition MPs who seem to disrespect her ability as a woman to deliver the ministry's winding-up speech.

"When other deputy ministers answer for their ministry, you said nothing. You only say this when I am delivering my speech," she lamented.

Fong was joined by other women Pakatan MPs such as Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR-Ampang), Chong Eng (DAP-Bukit Mertajam) and Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (PAS-Kota Raja), who also stood to add their voice to call for the "missing" minister to reveal himself.

'Walks like a man, talks like a man'

Joining the fray were several BN backbenchers like Mohamad Aziz (BN-Seri Gading), Halimah Mohd Sadique (BN-Tenggara) and Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak).

Halimah told Heng to ignore Pakatan's taunts about Najib's absence and read her speech.

Tajuddin, meanwhile, took things personally when he mentioned a mainstream newspaper's description of Zuraida, who was described as someone who "walks like a man and talks like a man".

This caused Pakatan MPs to bristle and demand an apology, while R Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) invoked a Standing Order to call for the speaker to ask Tajuddin to retract his remark.

umno youth rally 090209 tajuddin pasir salakTajuddin (left), however, said that the remark was taken  in toto from the newspaper report and so they should ask the paper to apologise instead.

To this, Chong interjected that the writer was not in the House. And since Tajuddin was the one who uttered the words, he should apologise.

These outbursts caused Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee a lot of grief as he had to continuously urge both sides to sit down and observe parliamentary decorum.

Kiandee even had to stop Heng from responding to Tajuddin's remarks, as she tried to give her views about the Pasir Salak MPs "walk like a man and talk like a man” jibe.

Three times she started to respond amidst giggles and all three times Kiandee cut her off in mid-sentence, stating, “deputy minister, you don't have to reply".

Settling the matter, he said that he saw no bad intentions in Tajuddin's jibe but also understood that the remark may have stung Zuraida, adding that he expects the matter to end at that.

Kiandee did not allow Sivarasa's request to instruct Tajuddin to retract his remark or apologise.

The Pakatan fusillade against Najib's absence was met with retaliation from BN backbenchers who likewise dragged out the issue of PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (below) vacating her parliamentary seat for her husband and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

NONEHer action, they posited, was far more detrimental to the plight of women in Malaysia, specifically in politics.

Siti Zailah Mohd Yusof (PAS-Rantau Panjang) later returned the barb to the ruling coalition.

"If PKR is said to be giving in to men when a woman MP steps down to make way to her husband, then isn't Wanita Umno in the same boat when it makes way for a man to become the (acting) women's minister?" she asked acidly.

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