Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | May 12, 08 8:56pm
Khairy Jamaluddin's (BN-Rembau) maiden speech while debating the royal address lived up to expectations - that it would turn riotous - as all hell broke loose in the house today after he let fly a litany of offending remarks about the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
He started civilly enough by talking of matters of common agreement such as the tragedy in Burma following the cyclone, the planned restructuring of the Anti-Corruption Agency and the proposed commission for the appointment and promotion of judges.
Even when he touched the Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption and plans to enact legislation to protect whistleblowers, the only interjection was from Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (PAS-Kota Raja), who remarked that there were no such plans to enact the latter.
He (photo: right) also proposed several measures to reduce time spent on government procurement processes and to increase their transparency, as well as recommendations to ensure that government subsidies and other funds reach the ‘strategic' sectors and the poorer sections of the population.
Things started picking up, however, the moment he turned to the issue of rising oil prices.
Criticising PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim for citing his own track eight-year record as finance minister to prove that oil prices can be kept low, Khairy said Anwar had sought to "fool" the people by comparing his times with the current global economic situation.
Crude oil during Anwar's time as finance minister cost between only US$12 and US$26 per barrel, while current oil prices have exceeded US$120 per barrel, Khairy noted.
"What was so difficult during his time? World oil prices were very low. Don't thump your chests (out of pride) while fooling the people," he said.
Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PKR-Machang), at this point, stood up to seek clarification, but was turned down by Khairy: "Sit down. We can debate on this later."
About ten minutes later into his speech, Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) also interjected - by asking whether Khairy should be allowed to read out his speech - but was similarly, albeit cordially, turned down.
Khairy's politeness was absent by the time Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Taiping) got up to object: "Don't you understand this language? Sit down," said Khairy.
Turning the heat on
It was when Khairy turned to the last two pages of his speech, which were dedicated to his criticisms of Pakatan, when the heat in the Dewan was turned up.
"They accuse BN leaders as being arrogant and elitist, that BN should look itself in the mirror. But after only two months as Yang Berhormat, who are the ones so proud and arrogant in this house... as to predict and pronounce that they will take over Putrajaya in a matter of months?
"Who is actually betraying principles of democracy by offering BN MPs to jump parties, by seeking to form government through the back door? Who are the ones not looking themselves in the mirror?" he asked.
At this point, several Pakatan MPs were already standing up and voiced their object aloud without waiting to be given permission to speak.
Ignoring them still, Khairy went on talking of the tensions between PAS and DAP over the issue of Islamic state. Taking a swipe at Pakatan Rakyat by writing it off as only a ‘public relations' exercise, Khairy said on matters of fundamentals there was no agreement.
PAS projects itself as a strong Islamic party, but appears to be only a "toothless lion", fearful of its own partner, said Khairy.
"My question is, does PAS agree with member of parliament from Ipoh Timor (Lim Kit Siang) who's calling for the social contract to be reviewed and to deny any differences between bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras, between Muslims and non-Muslims?
"Will they leave (DAP to make) the call without answering it? Just let it blow pass with the wind? Like talking to a wall? This is the same silence that has met Bukit Gelugor (Karpal) upon his insult of the institution of the Malay Rulers in this August house," said Khairy.
By this time, all hell had broken loose. While other Pakatan MPs were shouting at Khairy, Karpal raised a point of order and called for action against Khairy for "misleading the house." His objection was turned down by the deputy speaker.
Continuing on with his speech amidst the uproar on the side of the opposition parties - and BN backbenchers returning the favour and cheering Khairy on - the latter riled them up even further by deriding their respective state governments.
"The Islamic state in Kelantan and Kedah; Malaysian Malaysia in Penang; the puppet government in Perak; and the pork project in Selangor. While each is sleeping on the same bed, on the same mattress, on the same pillow, each one of them dreams of different things," said Khairy.
He also reserved a particularly offensive label for the PKR in Selangor when he referred to the state government's pig-breeding project by using the same abbreviation and labeling it as ‘Project Khinzir Raksasa' P-K-R (giant pork project).
No semblance of decorum
Ignoring Zulkifli Nordin (PKR-Kulim Bandar Baru) who called for a retraction, Khairy went on reading his speech even as the house lost all semblance of decorum.
"Don't be afraid Rembau!" shouted Zulkifli (photo). Zulkifli was unable, however, to elicit a reaction from Khairy - who had proceeded to talk of Pakatan Rakyat's wild dreams of "flying carpets and turbans", "flying rockets" and "flying pigs".
Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) said: "If Rembau is going to read his speech without allowing (for us to get) clarifications, he might as well just read his speech in his own house!"
It was when Zulkifli resorted to the same tactic used by Khairy and shouted out ‘Babi Negeri!' (Pig of the country) - however Khairy and other BN backbenchers shouted and demanded a retraction.
In the end, the uproar that overwhelmed the house meant Khairy had to wind up before completing his speech, which he did by referring to Dr Mohd Hatta bin Md Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai), who had previously cited a famous adage on politics.
"If Kuala Krai said ‘absolute power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the act of PR proves that ‘even a little power corrupts very quickly!" said Khairy.