By G. Manimaran and Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — Along with some serious commotion in Parliament last Wednesday, some lawmakers and a deputy speaker were caught in an exchange of racist remarks.
According to the Hansard, made available on the Parliament website, Pasir Salak MP Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman had allegedly said that Malays were jungle dwellers before the implementation of New Economic Policy (NEP).
In another exchange, Deputy Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Abdul Rahman was also recorded as asking Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan to return to the plantations — a remark seen as a racial slur in the country.
The exchanges took place when the Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was debating the royal address.
Tajuddin stopped Anwar’s speech to question the latter’s stand on the pro-Malay economic policy and to explain that it has successfully changed the living conditions of Malays.
“This is the reality of today. Malays no longer live in the jungle, no longer live on the trees,” said Tajuddin.
At this point Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming took the opportunity to criticise Umno for exaggerating the plight of the Malays.
“Who is saying the Malays used to live in the jungle? Umno,” said Nga before he was asked to sit down by Wan Junaidi.
Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan then tried to intervene but his microphone was not switched on.
“Honourable Member from Padang Serai, if you want to go back to the estate, go now,” said Wan Junaidi.
Gobalakrishnan had dismissed Tajudin’s argument about the Malay community’s economic conditions before the NEP.
“No Malays lived in the jungle,” said Gobalakrishnan.
When contacted, Wan Junaidi confirmed that he made the remarks but said he did not mean to offend any party.
“It is the same as asking the Malays to ‘balik kampung’,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Wan Junaidi added that his statement should not be taken out of context and must be read together with the verbal exchange.
Meanwhile Gobalakrishnan told The Malaysian Insider last night that it was really disheartening if the deputy speaker had indeed made the remarks in the House.
He admitted he did not hear what Wan Junaidi had told him but said he would check the Hansard on Monday before deciding on the next course of action.
“I have to first check the Hansard this Monday and will request for the remark to be expunged if it is true that the deputy speaker had said it,” said the first-term lawmaker.