April 30, 2008 / 7:11 AM / 11 years ago

Malaysia opens new parliament sitting amid chaos

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s new parliament descended into chaos on Wednesday as a revitalised opposition disrupted proceedings amid noisy name-calling and insults.

A general view of the Malaysia's parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2008. Malaysia's new parliament descended into chaos on Wednesday as a revitalised opposition disrupted proceedings amid noisy name-calling and insults. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

The pandemonium sparked concerns that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, already under pressure to quit after the March 8 general elections, could struggle to push through legislation.

“We have had the most cantankerous session in three decades,” Foreign Minister Rais Yatim, a lawmaker for the past 25 years, told reporters.

The chaotic scenes were broadcast live on state television, prompting the information minister to reconsider the decision because he said the MPs were “playing to the gallery”.

The March 8 polls saw Abdullah’s ruling coalition lose its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time in four decades.

The shouting match began after veteran opposition lawmaker Karpal Singh questioned the way the session was being held.

When a government MP, Bung Moktar Radin, disturbed him, Karpal retaliated: “I hope Bigfoot ... does not disrupt the proceedings.”

Moktar immediately stood up and shouted: “I am Bigfoot, you are big monkey.”

The assembly’s new speaker, Pandikar Amin Mulia, immediately rebuked both of them: “Let’s not create chaos in parliament.”

Government and opposition MPs traded fresh barbs after Amin refused the usual follow-up question for Abdullah, who had earlier answered a pre-submitted question.

Former opposition leader Lim Kit Siang accused the speaker of making “a mockery of parliament”.

“This is not the First World parliament but the Tenth World parliament,” he said.

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