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Uproar Over Use of English In Parliament

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KUALA LUMPUR: A heated exchange of words erupted between several Members of Parliament during the debate session over the use of English in the Dewan Rakyat.

It was triggered by Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) during the debate on the 2016 Supply Bill at committee level for the Prime Minister’s Department.

He 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, switched to English, stating that the right was enshrined in the 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.

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

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) rose and questioned Chong in highlighting the issue, which was not 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 that not all the people of Sabah and Sarawak understood English.

Kiandee 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 war of words resumed.

Chong then ended his speech after completing the 10-minute duration as stipulated by the Speaker. – Bernama

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