To say the least, Umno’s walkout at the opening of the 14th Parliament was a major disappointment. The point of the exercise totally misses me!
The reason they gave was to protest the appointment of the Speaker, former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof. Umno MPs claim that the appointment letter was backdated to July 2 when his appointment was confirmed after that day, thus breaking the 14-day rule before a speaker could be appointed.
Umno may have a case, which they could have brought up in a debate, providing proof to their claim. If their arguments were solid, surely they might have got at least sympathy for their case? Who knows, they might even have succeeded in upturning the decision to appoint Ariff.
But, none of this happened because they chose to walk out even before the debate began. By doing so, they continued in the same vein they always have: When they can’t call the shots, they bully or throw a tantrum!
This is the “old style” of Umno which no longer has any place in the new Malaysia. What did they achieve by the walkout? Absolutely zero. Zilch! If they had debated their point and, if not making any headway, they walked out, that would have made sense. Instead, they chose to walk out without debate and merely created a ruckus in Parliament.
The only person in Umno who, perhaps, was ready for debate in Parliament was the Rembau Member of Parliament (MP) Khairy Jamaluddin. He was the only Umno MP who didn’t follow his president out for which he was criticised for not showing he is a team player.
I find this reasoning extremely outdated ! If you dissent you are not a team player? So, everyone must follow the leader in a show of unity whether or not they actually believe him or her? If it were an issue that demanded total support, there should have been a discussion for a final vote of unanimous agreement. It requires skill to talk with people of varied opinions to get them around to present a show of unity. On some issues that might be necessary.
In Parliament, however, MPs are there to push the cause of their constituents, not their party or their bosses! They are free to dissent and go against the party line as Khairy did. He was ready for his new role in the opposition and to engage in debate and he made it very clear he was not going along with the “old Umno”. Good for him!
He stood up (in this case, sat still!) for what he believed was necessary reforms in his party. His party members may not agree and he may have to face the consequences, but holding on to a different point of view doesn’t make him less of an Umno member. He has said he is still an Umno member.
An enlightened modern leadership would nurture a culture of diverse exchanges as it reflects what people think and they would be accommodating of such diversity.
That is what I’m looking forward to seeing in Parliament. MPs speaking their mind even when it goes against the grain because they put their constituents first.
I suppose we need to give Umno a little more time to get used to their role as the new opposition. They did perform better in the following days!
It will be good to see if the quality of parliamentary debate improves by leaps and bounds!