TAIPING — Monkeys and apes of various species housed at the Taiping Zoo expressed their disappointment today with the recent public scuffle at the Perak State Assembly Hall, which saw the Pakatan Rakyat Speaker A. Sivakumar being dragged out of the hall by security officers and Barisan Nasional installing its own Speaker.
“It’s an absolute disgrace, I say,” lamented Hitam, a chimpanzee elder, as the rest of the clan looked on in agreement. “In my many years living in Perak, I have never felt so ashamed to be a citizen of the state. For complete adults — elected assemblymen at that!– to shout profanities and come to blows in a state assembly hall as the world watched… it’s ridiculous!”
Hitam continued, “Yes, the situation was bad. The legitimacy of the BN action to usurp the state government powers via defections was being challenged. The legitimacy of the very institutions of government — the executive, judiciary and parliament — was in doubt, and there was an unbreakable political impasse.
“But was there a need to be uncivilized? I think not.”
Hitam reiterated that he was not affiliated to any political party and he wasn’t on anyone’s side, saying that he was more concerned about the ‘steady collapse of human decency’.
“I mean, these are completely well-respected and supposedly intelligent leaders of society,” he said. “Instead of calmly and diplomatically trying to solve the issues amicably, they used brute and, I must say, ugly force to get their way. It’s preposterous! Where has all manners gone?” he asked, to the loud chant of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” by his fellow chimps.
In the five-hour drama at the hall in Ipoh, the state capitol last Thursday, BN assemblymen took control of the assembly after voting to sack the Pakatan Speaker, who maintained that the assembly was null and void, since there were many pending court cases that would determine who was the rightful Menteri Besar, between BN’s Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir or PR’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin. The fracas was the climax of a legal and political wrangling which began when 3 PR assemblymen left the coalition to be ‘independents friendly to BN’.
“What I don’t get is how a situation that could have been resolved in a manner befitting of such a place ended up looking like a wrestling match,” said Upin, a silverback gorilla who was introduced to the zoo in 2003. “Unlike some of my colleagues here, I had spent a part of my life in the jungle. But honestly I have never witnessed such brutality — people being shoved around and dragged out in such violent and unseemly manner! It’s just sickening!
“Why couldn’t the assemblymen just behaved better? Why couldn’t everyone just kept their tempers in check and simply agree to disagree?”
Upin added that he’d lost much respect — and hope — for the elected representatives.
“This incident has definitely opened my eyes,” he said, forelorn. “I used to think that these people, these servants of our society, are the best of us, to represent not just our people, but our principles and aspirations. They were the symbols of our civilization.
“But now, I ask: What civilization? Bah!” he scoffed, as he munched on nearby leaves.
Limah, a four-year-old proboscis monkey, meanwhile said that it was ‘the beginning of the end for civility and true democracy’.
“I’ve taught my children all this while that we live in a civilized society, and that we could always depend on our leaders to nurture our democracy for the sake of the country and the future generations.
“But look at them, it’s disgusting!” she said, showing Malaysiakini clips from the incident on her laptop.
“It’s a sad, sad day for the state, and a sadder day for the country, when people behave so wildly and without proper conduct. I honestly am now looking at migrating to another country, where people behave better. I want my kids to learn that even if you disagree with someone, you should never take away their dignity by being violent.
“At the end of the day, you also rob yourself of your own dignity.”