Uproar in Dewan Rakyat over use of English during debate

In the Dewan Rakyat, Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen insisted on his right to debate in English, saying the right was enshrined in the Constitution. — File pic
In the Dewan Rakyat, Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen insisted on his right to debate in English, saying the right was enshrined in the Constitution. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — The debate session at the Dewan Rakyat today turned into an uproar following heated exchanges by several members of Parliament on the use of English in the Dewan Rakyat.

It was triggered by Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching), who was taking part in the debate on the 2016 Supply Bill at committee level for the Prime Minister’s Department, who raised the issue of the rights of Sabah and Sarawak Members of Parliament to speak in English.

Chong, who earlier commenced his debate speech in Bahasa Malaysia and then switched to English, stated that the right was enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution.

“I wish to set the record straight that in particular that in respect of the right for members of parliament from Sabah and Sarawak, we are entitled to use the English Language in this House,” he said.

However, Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee interrupted and told Chong that he had to seek the consent of the Speaker to speak in English.

However, Chong ignored Kiandee’s explanation and continued to speak in English and read a paragraph from Article 161 of the Malaysian Constitution on the rights of Sabah and Sarawak.

His action ruffled the feather of Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) who rose and questioned Chong in highlighting the issue and not that related to the people.

The exchange of words between the duo was interspersed by several elected representatives, including Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh (BN-Putatan) who got up to interrupt, saying not all the people of Sabah and Sarawak understood English.

Kiandee then told them to calm down and explained again that a speech in English could only be made with the permission of the Speaker.

Chong, however, continued his speech in English on the issue before Tiong interrupted him and their exchange resumed.

Chong then ended his speech after completing the 10 minutes duration as stipulated by the Speaker. — Bernama

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