KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — A chaotic first day in Parliament which saw experienced MPs booted out while others openly engaged in shouting matches has triggered rage and frustration among the nation’s youth, as they took to social media to voice their intent to empower and vote in younger leaders as the new generation of lawmakers.
Using the #MasaKita (#OurTurn) hashtag, hordes of users made their sentiments known by posting tweets and status updates, most of which included links to news reports and videos of yesterday’s parliamentary coverage, while chiding and condemning the behaviour of the elected representatives.null
Undoubtedly, many of them were also aware of the recently conducted Parlimen Digital, a youth initiative that was out to prove the feasibility of a virtual Parliament, as suggested during the Covid-19 pandemic, with many drawing comparisons between the well-mannered behaviour of those who participated in the virtual sitting and the conduct of MPs witnessed in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
One Twitter user (@imnormgoh) expressed his disappointment with the behaviour of MPs during the sitting, before suggesting that youth leaders be elected to Parliament.
“It’s so disappointing to see such condescending tone, immaturity in the Parliament session today.null
“Look at how young Malaysians debate, they’re much much better (at) following decorum.
“Time to get Young Malaysians into Parliament,” read his tweet, followed by the #MasaKita hashtag.
A tweet by youth empowerment group Change Led by Young Generation (Challenger) had a more direct message.
“Boomers out, let youth in,” read the tweet.
Also weighing in was user Mayna Patel (@Mayna_Patel), who, like Challenger, was clear in her message to empower the youth.
“Enough of these dinosaurs running the country to the ground.
“It is time for the youth to take over. #BeliaAmbilAlih (#YouthTakeover) #MasaKita #OurTime,” read her tweet.
User amiraaisya (@_amiraaisya) tweeted about how she found yesterday’s sitting “painful to watch”.
“Little to no finesse in arguments made; no separation of powers; petty fights; rude gestures and name callings.
“And the saddest part — this is exactly how our Parliament has been for so long. #MasaKita #AmbilAlih (#TakeOver),” she posted.
Among the topics heavily commented on was the exchange between Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto and Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, with many siding with the former after she fell victim to alleged sexist and racist remarks by the latter.
This after a ruckus erupted in Parliament yesterday following Abdul Azeez’s remark towards Kasthuriraani where he commented on her skin tone, to which in his defence he said could not be seen as racist as his complexion was similar in appearance.
User @imnormgoh again made his sentiments known when he called out Abdul Azeez, saying the behaviour of MPs was deplorable and disappointing.
“Such behaviour by some members of Parliament is deplorable, disappointing and an insult to the House.
“The same when Baling MP hurled comments to YB @KasthuriPatto today.
“Absolutely disgusted with these attitudes,” read his tweet.
User tpkelhuman (@jomlocalfarm), in reply to a video of the exchange between Abdul Azeez and Kasthuriraani, pointed out how there were more deserving candidates to helm the position of elected representative besides the Umno MP.
“The rakyat pay their taxes every year not to pay the salary of YBs (Yang Berhormat) who are pretending to be stupid, use insults, are unprofessional, have meaningless chats and skip Parliament.
“If you can’t do the job please resign and give it to someone else. There are many more credible candidates out there who are looking for a job,” read the tweet.
Adibah Kasim (@adibah_kasim) was more cynical in her approach.
“Tell us who’s the most hated MP from today’s (Monday) Parliamentary session and why is the MP of Baling Abdul Azeez Rahim your choice of answer,” read the tweet.
There were also users who sided with Abdul Azeez, saying he was right in his claim that he could not be seen as a racist for commenting on someone else’s complexion that is apparently similar to his.
One of them was Taqiuddin Omar (@taqiuddin_omar) who attached a picture of the Parliament coverage, suggesting Abdul Azeez’s remark was mere observation.
“This photo is not edited. It is the reality that the area is dark and you cannot see clearly because it is poorly lit.
“I do not see a racial issue here. Dark in Bahasa Melayu does not only refer to complexion, bad lighting is also considered as dark,” it read.
Challenger in a statement today condemned Abdul Azeez’s actions, saying such words were unbecoming and should not be uttered in Parliament, suggesting that he could do with lessons on how to properly operate his microphone in the Dewan Rakyat.
“If YB Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim needs help to learn the ways to mute his microphone, with an open heart, we will volunteer and be ready to show him the proper ways to use technology.
“The constituency of Baling needs a leader who is mature and with calibre, and not a parliamentarian who is outdated and a racist.
“We hope YB Abdul Azeez will pay attention to the corruption charges that are still in the midst of proceedings in court before paying attention to skin colours, races and the origins of Malaysians who are more qualified to be in his place to represent the Parliamentary constituency,” read their statement.
Another topic also frequently commented on was the treatment of Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman during yesterday’s session, where he was heckled and constantly interrupted while attempting to debate a motion on the removal of the Parliament Speaker.
The attacks on the country’s former youngest-ever minister, however, did not go down well with young social media users, as they called out the older MPs for their lack of respect.
Twitter user @Mayna_Patel also posted on the topic, saying the manner in which Syed Saddiq was heckled was a sign of how the youth are perceived in the local political scene.
“The youth are constantly not taken seriously and only made to be work horses only.
“The youth posses the power and technological know-how. They are even better at ensuring policies and initiatives succeed, by using their knowledge.
“This is #MasaKita,” she wrote.
Another user (@alupratha) reminded the youth to take note of the treatment Syed Saddiq received today and that one day the youth will be the ones steering the country to greater heights, and not anyone else.
“Dear young Malaysians, do not ever forget what happened in the Dewan Rakyat today, what our leaders did and how much they have disrespected all of us thinking politics is a joke.
“We shall be better than this, we will lead the country better #MasaKita,” read the tweet.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Archana Vashisht, an activist with Challenger and the representative for Seremban during the Parlimen Digital, said the unbecoming conduct seen yesterday demonstrated the need for decency, transparency and clear debates as portrayed during the virtual Parliament.
She said the #MasaKita movement, which has gained traction and seen many youth stand up to be counted, was a humbling and inspiring experience, adding that the commitment was akin to a breath of fresh air in local politics.
“I believe youths can do so much more, if provided with the right resources and funding. It is no doubt that such behaviour is unbefitting of all Malaysians and should not be tolerated, especially in the highest institution of the land.
“If young people from all walks of life can be calm, poised and eloquent in the recent Parlimen Digital, why can’t our MPs, with more experience, do the same?” she said.
When asked if a concept of capping the age of MPs, similar to the minimum age limit required for lawmakers, was a feasible suggestion, Archana disagreed but pointed out the need for higher youth representation in Parliament.
“This does not only ensure their voices are brought to the table but to also give adherence to the proposed solutions that can be done — from the youths, for the youths,” she said.
BY EMMANUEL SANTA MARIA CHIN – THE MALAY MAIL