Monday, July 15, 2013

THE MALAYSIAN PARLIAMENT’S DEWAN RAKYAT IS DESIGNED FOR CHAOS

…AND THEY GET A LOT OF THAT ALL THE TIME WITH THE MEDIA GIVING PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO MAKE THE MOST NOISE.   
By Mansor Puteh



It is not about fungshui. Maybe it has got to do with it. But I do not believe in fungshui. So let’s put aside this.

I dare say the confusion and chaos and lengthy verbal fracas that we often see in parliamentary debates may be due to the poor or bad design of the Dewan Rakyat itself.

There is no other parliament hall that looks like Dewan Rakyat.

The best setup for a parliament is the House of Commons, where the members of the parliament in Britain sit without they being able to hide themselves behind a huge desk.

In Dewan Rakyat, they also have a small monitor. What do the members of parliament here do with them?

It makes the Dewan Rakyat look like a video game center.

Maybe this is what many of those in the opposition think, that they are in a video game center where they go to have fun.

And the way the Dewan Rakyat is designed, the members who sit in it on both sides can hide themselves so in the end, they can feel like they are ‘anonymous’ persons who like to say a lot of things and not brave enough to own them, much like those who write ‘surat layang’.

They can spring onto their feet when the urges hit them. And most of the time, the urge comes to them when they want to break the monotony of the debate which often is not one in the first place.

Members of the Dewan Rakyat do not engage in debates; they engage themselves in verbal fracas. And there is a vast difference between the two.

Fortunately, the standing orders say that they are not to be physical, only verbal, and they do it with relish.

They like to make fun of their opponents, especially those in the opposition who do not have much else to do.

Most of them come seem to the Dewan Rakyat unprepared; they lack the facts to argue convincingly so that even their opponents are enthralled by what they say, and they only react.

They get the thrill by downplaying what the backbenchers say or want to say or try to drive at – and it is the only trick that they have when debating.

But most of the time, the debates end up facing problems with semantics.

I have not heard of anyone from the opposition who has spoken eloquently and in brief, that can even convince the backbenchers.

They are now larger in numbers than after the earlier 2008 elections, but this does not mean that they can shout louder and longer.

They are still lost in Dewan Rakyat. They sit there when they like or they loiter in the lobby or even sit in the cafeteria chatting with the very persons whom they had argued with earlier.

So most of the time the ugly verbal fracas that are created in Dewan Rakyat are not just due to the incompetence of its members, especially those in the opposition who do not know how to oppose; they only know how to get angry.

But the main problem may be due to the poor quality design of the hall itself.

It is clear how the designers had tried to copy the design of the original Dewan Rakyat which had a partition, where the members of the backbenchers sit on one side while those in the opposition sit on the other side.

And in the middle is a space.

But when the numbers of the backbenchers started to dwindle, they had to create more space or seats and desks for members of the opposition so much so that the Dewan Rakyat has to be reshaped so that the seats now have a ‘U’ shape.

They also enlarge the size of the chairs and desks so that only the heads of the members of Dewan Rakyat are seen.

This makes them look odd if the debates are broadcast on television or if photos of the Dewan Rakyat are published in the media.

This means to say that as long as the Dewan Rakyat looks like what it is now, chances are verbal fracas and unnecessary arguments will continue to happen.

The designers of Dewan Rakyat ought to have considered the design of the House of Commons and of the Australian and New Zealand parliament halls in Canberra and Wellington to know how to use them for it.

It is better for Dewan Rakyat not to have its members hide themselves behind large desks.

They must be exposed for what they are and the television monitors must be removed. They do not need them.

Only if this is done, can we expect the debates in Dewan Rakyat to be conducted in a more proper manner so that the speaker concerned does not have to issue threats or to force anyone to stop speaking so that the debates can be done more intelligently.

And the Malaysian media too seems to encourage the members of parliament to be as noisy as possible and say the most outrageous things possible so they can be highlighted.

The media seems to like such persons who they often give a lot of space in their papers.

But what if the media does the opposite and only gives space to those who say the most intelligently?

Surely, the members of parliament in Dewan Rakyat will try to outdo each other so they can get the publicity they need, but they have to say intelligent things.

So may be it is a combination of the design of the Dewan Rakyat and the media which has created all the noise in the Dewan Rakyat that we have heard.

No wonder, the members of parliament have never been known have said anything intelligent because the media still favor those who say the darnest things and not the smartest things in Dewan Rakyat.  

Yes, most of those who are members of parliament in Malaysia may have won their seats in the general elections, but this does not mean that they are smart, that they can debate convincingly and intelligently.

After all most of the issues that the opposition likes to debate in Dewan Rakyat are too few in numbers; they hardly ever discuss or debate on all the other issues as well.



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