MPs elected to parliament quickly learn that parliament is not a kopitiam to sing song and talk cock. Parliament can be a treacherous place, like a war zone or battle field and requires special skills to survive the day. Maybe that is a reason why so many MPs chose to disappear during parliament sessions.
The democratic process of parliament is the culmination of a contentious way of pursuing political power between opposing parties. And that set the tone for debates in parliament, and also the behavior of parliamentarians. Once in parliament, it is me against them. There is no good idea or bad idea, it is our idea against your idea.
Every session in parliament is a battle. Anyone stands up must be prepared to be shot and then returns with counter offensive from supporting forces in the background. Some use small arms, some use snipers, some big guns and artilleries and air power. These are figuratively speaking of course.
The most effective or often used tactic against the enemy in parliament is the steely stare. Many have used them quite effectively. The way they manipulated their eyes to meet the enemy’s eyes, eye contact. To look straight into the enemy with big wide eyes or to squint the eyes to shape like a cutting blade of a knife, they all look very intimidating. It all ends up with the cold hard stare, in silence and measured in minutes.
Another effective way is to giggle or simply laugh the enemy away. This tactic is only effective if there is a superiority in number so that the laughter can be coordinated and the volume raised at the same time. Any MP speaking when everyone is giggling or laughing must be a frightening experience. He may even be made to have doubts on what he is saying to draw the giggling and laughters.
An alternative to this tactic, to dismiss an enemy MP, is to simply walk out, and this is even more effective when done in numbers. The psychologist will explain this as a kind of humiliating act, to humiliate the enemy, to make him question his own ability to make people listen.
The pedestrian style of picking at every wrong use of words or comments and raining blows at them may not be too effective after a while. Some comments in the media about new MPs jumping up like little frogs at on queue to attack the enemy’s viewpoint showed that this methodology is frown upon by the audience. It looks pretty childish, like school boys in a debate. Score points, score points. Damn clever like dat. Clap, clap, clap.
There are many tactics that were used, and one only needs to observe closely to detect them. The use of position power, authority, and the ‘I will fix you later’ body language are also quite common. The effectiveness of all these tactics basically boils down to power in numbers. Those without power and small in numbers will definitely be at the losing end. There is no way that one can use guerilla hit and run tactics inside the parliament house. There is no where to run and no where to hide.
What I thought would be a good weapon is to bring a tape recorder with tapes of laughters and giggling and play it out loud when the laughter offensive comes on. As for the cold hard steely stare, perhaps a big enough mirror may be able to deflect some of the venom. Or a wear a big pak kwa in the front chest could give an MP some cold comfort that a pak kwa has a defensive ability to ward off evil stares.
Parliament is a serious place and serious things are being discussed all the time. But there are interesting and humorous moments as well. And there are frightening moments too. Political parties must train their MPs in the art of war in parliament and armed them with offensive and defensive tactics before they step foot in parliament. And make sure they bring a tape recorder and some protective gear for their own protection. The naïve may thing good ideas is all they need to bring to parliament. As I said earlier, there is no good or bad idea in parliament. Only our idea or their idea.