CONTINUING the live coverage of the Dewan Rakyat is the correct decision, and Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek should be credited for pushing the issue. It's now up to his fellow MPs to act and behave as dignified lawmakers and not circus clowns.
When I saw pictures of Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin and Bukit Gelugor veteran Karpal Singh shaking hands outside the dewan, after trading insults and calling each other names earlier, my conclusion is simple - these are court jesters who were competing for air time.
I can buy the argument that they need not be foes outside the scope of their work. But to behave badly in the august house only to appear warm and friendly outside it makes it look a bit of a mockery, to say the least.
It's as if they are telling everyone: "Come on guys, we were in front of the TV cameras! We must live up to our reputation as fighters and champion issues passionately. It's work, nothing more than that. Once we are done, we are friends and buddies. What's wrong with that?"
Even PAS' wise old man, Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, frowned upon such ungentlemanly behavior and time wasting antics. In the end, the substantive work which the MPs were elected to do was reduced to nothing more than a TV drama. An old one at that.
It remains to be seen whether our MPs can take advantage of the live coverage to show voters what kind of leadership qualities they have. There will always be interruptions to proceedings, but the manner in which these interruptions are made and the arguments raised when doing so are just as important.
More than just the behaviour of MPs are at stake in this episode. The minister's stand in wanting to set new standards in freedom of expression via the electronic media is also on the line.
Ahmad Shabery doesn't look like your typical Information Minister, caught in a time warp using tired and jaded arguments of information dissemination. After years chained to old ways, the staff of RTM suddenly found themselves freed of such restraints and now are trying to cope with the extra freedom.
Let's see where all this will lead us to.