By Mohsin Abdullah
You must have heard of this before. Uttered even by highly intelligent people.
I don’t know if it can be called humor or sarcasm. Or both. It goes like this: “I don’t understand why should 22 grown up men fight for one ball. Just give them one ball each. End of problem. Everybody happy.”
Obviously that is a reference to the game of football, or soccer if you like.
Some people find it funny. They understand the so-called humor and sarcasm. Others are not amused, finding it absurd, ridiculous and even stupid instead.
Despite “sensing” the intended sarcasm, these folks feel that giving 22 men 22 balls would be taking an easy way out without wanting to take up challenges. And these people are not even football fans.
Enough of that. For now.
Last month, Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said quit as Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker, hoping that would spur a “reset” in the current parliamentary sitting.
But first, her successor must be appointed. Many had expected appointing the new deputy speaker would be high on the agenda. Apparently it was, but then problems cropped up, so to speak.
As Azalina is from Umno, her party wanted an Umno MP as her replacement. Their choice was Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.
However, Umno Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassin was on record saying the Prime Minister (needless to say he is from Umno) could consider a member from the opposition as the new deputy speaker.
This would gel nicely with the signing of the MoU between the government and Pakatan Harapan in the evening of Monday 12 Sept.
Earlier on the day, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong officially opened the new Parliament sitting.
Also some political observers and analysts say that by having a deputy speaker from the opposition would fit the Keluarga Malaysia mantra of Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration.
Many see such an appointment “a step in the right direction”. Therefore, there is a very high possibility of this being a reality although it is not a done deal yet.
For the record, the Pakatan Harapan candidate is DAP’s Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming who previously served in the position during the Pakatan Harapan administration.
Hence, the anticipated contest is between Umno’s Ahmad Maslan and DAP’s Nga. But then there is also talk that the other deputy speaker currently in office, Datuk Rashid Hasnon, would have to be “sacrificed” to accommodate Umno and Pakatan candidates.
Rashid is from Bersatu, and Bersatu MPs have reportedly refused to back Ahmad Maslan, the reason given being they want Umno to name a candidate not facing charges in court and “has integrity”.
Ahmad Maslan is standing trial for money laundering and giving false statement to the MACC over RM2 million he received from then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
But Umno supreme council member Datuk Puad Zakarshi is claiming that Bersatu has held a grudge against Ahmad Maslan.
Whatever the reason, a problem has arisen. And the Bersatu MPs have managed to scuttle the vote for the deputy speaker.
As we know, the vote has been postponed.
Meanwhile, Azalina is back carrying out duties as deputy speaker, at least until everything is sorted out.
Enter Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar. This was what he told Parliament last Tuesday: “Our reason for suspending the appointment of Deputy Speaker is that we want to table amendments to Article 57(1) (b) to allow for the appointment of Deputy Speakers to be increased from two to three.”
Which brings me back to the humor or sarcasm narrated at the beginning of this article. Yes, about giving 22 men 22 balls to make everybody happy.
Said veteran journalist Datuk A Kadir Jasin in his post on Facebook: “We do not need many deputy speakers. We need intelligent and smart people. The MoU is not to waste more money of the rakyat.”
(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist and now a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)