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I was reading the Star paper on line, and how V.Sivakumar the Perak State Assembly Speaker had another fiery day yesterday to field off questions by Barisan Nasional members.

He is a rare breed of a Speaker coming from a party other than Barisan Nasional which controlled the assembly for 50 years. He must be firm but fair to both the ruling and opposition party members. That includes his own party members as well. If he does that, in time to come, he will earn the respect of all the members and life will be easy for him.

The confines of a state assembly is the only place you can discuss religion, race, language or whatever without fear of being hauled up to answer the reasons for bringing up sensitive issues. Let us grow up. If you don’t speak on such matters, where is the forum to discuss all these so called sensitive issues. The more you speak about it, the more you understand the feelings of the peculiarities of each community. For too long the people have bitten their tongues not to talk on race based issues. The more you hide the more sensitive it becomes. Once out in the open every race has a chance to express their views and in the long run, the realisation is there each community has something to grumble about. Sometimes these problems cuts across race and religion. Then we can address each case not based on skin colour but reality.

Saturday June 28, 2008

Reps keep up heat on Speaker


IPOH: It was another fiery day for Perak State assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar who not only had to handle continued heckling by Barisan Nasional assemblymen but also had a question with racial overtones thrown at him.

The first 36 minutes of Question Time yesterday saw opposition assemblymen continuously standing up and asking him for the chance to speak, and raise issues.

One by Hamidah Osman (BN-Sungai Rapat) particularly earned the wrath of the Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen when she asked whether Sivakumar “agreed to disagree” with the well-known fable of whether a snake or a man from a certain racial community should be killed first.

Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Pantai Remis) and other Pakatan assemblymen demanded Hamidah retract her words but she maintained she was merely asking if Sivakumar “agreed to disagree” with it.

Sivakumar let her off with a warning and told her not to bring up anything sensitive.

Barisan whip Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali (BN-Pengkalan Hulu) then asked her to retract her words, and she did.

Throughout the sitting, Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir (BN-Pangkor), Datuk Seri Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar (BN-Kubu Gajah) and Tajol Rosli continued to take Sivakumar to task over his decision to not let Raja Ahmad Zainuddin to be the first to take the floor on Thursday to debate the motion of thanks on the royal address.

Sivakumar reiterated that he saw Chang Lih Kang (PKR-Teja) stand up first and therefore called him to take the floor.

“I said after Teja, you can speak but you did not want to take the opportunity. Now sit down,” said Sivakumar.

The Speaker, whose most frequently used phrase yesterday was “sit down”, had to appeal for cooperation from the assemblymen to start the question-and-answer session.

He also had to control the House when issues on Islam and some defamatory remarks were made against a former assemblyman.

Dr Mah Hang Soon (BN-Chenderiang) also tested Sivakumar’s patience when the sole MCA representative brought out a poster and gave a lengthy explanation of how PAS was committed to the setting up of an Islamic state.

When Sivakumar did not adjourn for lunch at 12.30pm, the opposition assemblymen made so much noise that they drowned out the voice of Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, who was making his winding-up speech.

The assembly adjourned sine die at 4.15pm.


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