Tamil word triggers storm in Malaysian parliamentMay 28th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by admin
Kuala Lumpur, May 28 (IANS) Use of a Tamil word caused a storm in the Malaysian parliament after a Malay minister allegedly pronounced it wrongly, and Tamil members complained he had hurt their feelings. It all began when Deputy Higher Education Minister Idris Harun, while replying to a supplementary to a question, asked N. Gobalakrishnan, a Tamil-speaking opposition member, to sit down.
He used the word “wokarengeh”, which means “sit down”. But Harun apparently mispronounced the word and Tamil members said the term he used was “unparliamentary”.
Gobalakrishnan protested but speaker Pandikar Amin Mulla, a Malay, said he did not understand what was uttered. The Sun newspaper reported Wednesday.
M. Kulasegaran, another Tamil opposition member, said Harun should not say the word if he could not pronounce it properly.
Harun clarified that he had only asked the Tamil MP to “sit down”. Kulasegaran insisted it was not that and Gobalakrishnan called for a point of order.
Gobalakrishnan wanted Harun to apologise but the speaker said he could not give a ruling only based on the former’s argument.
“I also cannot fully depend on you (Gobalakrishnan), so I will ask people outside the house,” he said.
At this point, Gobalakrishnan approached the speaker and whispered into his ears.
Members of the treasury benches now protested, saying Gobalakrishnan’s action was unacceptable.
Asking them to behave, the speaker said: “When I reminded you not to use unparliamentary words, (Gobalakrishnan) had to leave his seat and explain to me what the word is.”
He added: “Sooner or later we will become like other parliaments where the opposition and government representatives throw shoes, books and chairs and speakers are attacked.
“He just whispered to me. But next time, please don’t do that,” he said.
As the din continued, the speaker sought to bring peace by asking Gobalakrishnan’s party (Parti Keadalan Rakyat) colleague Mohamad Azmin Ali to speak.
Azmin Ali said he had consulted party president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and they agreed that Gobalakrishnan should apologise.
Gobalakrishnan then stood up and said: “I tender my apology as I did it unconsciously.”
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