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Commotion in Dewan Rakyat over election of Speaker, the words 'gelap' and 'bedak'

14th July, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun took his oath of office as the new Speaker of Dewan Rakyat on Monday in the middle of the commotion among the opposition lawmakers.

Soon after the sitting resumed at 2.30 pm, the opposition MPs did not waste any time to voice out their protests against Azhar’s appointment, causing a very noisy disorder.

The credibility and firmness of the Speaker were proven when he booted Khalid Abdul Samad (PH-Shah Alam) out of the House after the latter repeatedly disturbed his inaugural speech.

It calmed the situation down for a moment, enabling Azhar to finish his speech and address the motion to appoint six members of the Select Committee for the 14th Parliament before Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling) turned up the heat by uttering words “gelap tak nampak” which implied that the person was dark-skinned when Kasthuriraani Patto (PH-Batu Kawan) stood up and questioned why there was no woman in the committee.

The words prompted Kasthuriraani and R.S.N Rayer (PH-Jelutong) to use the Standing Orders demanding Azhar to order Abdul Azeez to withdraw the words as they were deemed to be racist.

Azhar said the matter raised by Kasthuriraani could be discussed during the debate and, without making any ruling on the words used by Abdul Azeez, he went on to ask for the debate to proceed.

Several MPs from the opposition bloc, including Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (PH-Setiawangsa), Chang Lih Kang (PH-Tanjong Malim) and P. Prabakaran (PH-Batu), however, continued demanding for Azhar to make a ruling on Abdul Azeez’s remarks.

Abdul Azeez, at the same time, defended his words, saying that he was also dark-skinned and the problem can be solved simply by dabbing some bedak (powder), which was like pouring fuel on the fire, as Kasthuriraani claimed that she felt persecuted by the allegedly sexist remarks.

The ruckus among the opposition MPs went on for about 10 minutes before Abdul Azeez finally withdrew the words. Due to the commotion, the motion on the appointment of the Select Committee was passed by majority vote without debate.

It also caused the sitting to be adjourned much earlier than its scheduled time of 5.30 pm following a motion by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan which was seconded by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

The sitting was adjourned at 3.32 pm and will continue today (Tuesday). –Bernama

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