EXPELLED Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) president designate Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin wants Dewan Rakyat speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul to step down if he is unable to behave fairly to both sides of the political divide by simply curtailing freedom of speech in the august house.
This came about as Johari has resorted to ban MPs from using divisive words such as “kafir” (infidel), “Zionist” and “Yahudi” (Jews) during parliamentary debates as doing so could inflame racial and religious tensions.
“It is something very superficial for the Malaysian Parliament to limit the use of any word that if uttered outside the House is not an offence,” berated the former PKR Wanita chief in a media statement.
“Johari’s weakness in handling the parliamentary session is also very obvious whereby he is seen as too soft with the government and too firm when dealing with the opposition. If he is not able to be fair, I suggest that he just give up his position as the Dewan Rakyat speaker and let other more qualified individuals to hold the position.”
Although if can be deemed as “rude” or “barbaric” for some, Zuraida contended that the voice of parliamentarians should never be blocked, hence the banning of certain words or statements in the Parliament is poised “to slow down the development of democracy in our country”.
“For example, the word kafir has become one of the causes of polemics in the Dewan Rakyat recently due to the lack of understanding of some MPs regarding the meaning of the word,” reasoned the former plantation industries and commodities minister who is now the Muafakat Nasional deputy president.
“The word kafir comes from the Arabic language which refers to people who “do not believe” or more precisely those who are not Muslims and do not believe in what a Muslim believes.”
Appropriately, Zuraida said Johari should have taken the opportunity to explain the meaning and translation of the word kafir for the benefit of all MPs because “this word is not a condemnation or insult but only a title for those who do not follow Islam”.
“As for the words Jew and Zionist, their usage is similar to throwing the words “racist”, “extremist”, “Taliban” and “Communist” that have been used by both sides – the opposition and the government blocs previously,” she explained.
“This is just about facilitating communication between each other and not words of threats or swearing that are too serious till the speaker of the house has to prohibit their usage by means of intervention.” – Oct 24, 2023