[Artikel ni asalnya ditulis kawan-kawan kami kat Soscili. Kalau nak baca artikel ni dalam BM, klik sini!]
This year, the Malaysian government kind of made history by holding a Parliament sitting for just one day on the 18th of May, 2020, when a sitting usually lasts for more than that. According to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Yusof, the decision was made due to the limitations of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Why one-day, we all know why and parliament is not the only one which has shortened its sitting, state assemblies are doing the same thing.” – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Takiyuddin Hassan, as quoted from NST
As expected, the one-day Parliament drew a lot of controversy, especially from what is now the opposition Pakatan Harapan.
But then again, Parliament here has always been rife with controversies, starting from Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin – or, as we like to call him, The Bung – cursing out another MP, to the multiple delays of multiple sittings because there was a lack of quorum in the room. So, yeah, we’re not exactly unfamiliar with arguments and controversies in Dewan Rakyat.
While quite a number of MPs have caused controversies in Parliament, none of them has actually been fired yet. But did you know that…
There was an MP who got suspended for dancing in Parliament?
According to this book, the MP in question was Hashim Gera, who became the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) MP for Parit Perak after the general elections in 1969. Apart from being a politician, he was pretty adept in poetry, which was apparently one of the reasons he became quite a popular figure for giving political speeches. But only two years after getting hold of the position, Hashim was fired from PAS for, apparently, joget dancing in Parliament in 1971.
It all apparently started with an event in the Parliament building – you know, the one that looks like a cheese grater – on the 27th of February, 1971, when our then-former Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman issued a challenge for politicians to perform joget right in the lobby. Some have said that Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs were the ones who started to dance first, but then Hashim took up the challenge as well and joined them.
Unfortunately, a photo of him dancing joget started circulating on the news the next day, which apparently shocked a lot of people, especially PAS supporters.
Now, you’re probably thinking that Hashim dancing joget in Parliament shouldn’t be a big deal, since it was an invitation issued by the Prime Minister himself. And it kinda wasn’t, given that the BN MPs who danced didn’t get in trouble, but Hashim did get in trouble because his own party seemed to consider it offensive and embarrassing.
Wait, why was it offensive? Well, joget is actually a traditional Malay dance that’s usually performed between couples, featuring a lot of teasing and playing between partners that’s seen as a sign of courtship. It didn’t really bode well with an Islamic party like PAS.
As a result, Hashim was immediately brought into a disciplinary hearing with PAS’ Disciplinary Committee. He defended himself by saying it’s a clean dance, but that didn’t seem to be a good excuse, because his PAS membership was suspended almost immediately.
“When the female partner comes to me, I dance away. When I come to her, she dances away. There’s no touching between the man and woman, because it’s like cat and mouse.” – Hashim Gera, as translated from Utusan Malaysia
In Zainuddin’s book, it was said that former PAS president Asri Muda had claimed that Hashim’s suspension was only temporary, as he had violated the party’s disciplinary code and been given a chance to reflect on his mistakes. And Hashim himself had also made a promise to not dance like that in public again.
Hashim ended up getting fired anyway
While Hashim’s suspension was revoked in March 1971, he only got to enjoy a full time membership in PAS for a couple of months until he was abruptly terminated from the party in May 1971. According to Asri, it was because Hashim didn’t keep to his promise to no longer dance inappropriately in public.
However, we couldn’t really find any proof that Hashim did indeed dance joget or anything else after his suspension, so we can only rely on Zainuddin’s words about this. After his termination from PAS, Hashim whipped out his skills in crafting poetry and wrote one to lament his situation:
“Pagi-pagi turun ke telaga,
Ramai bercampur teruna dara;
Hashim Gera empunya cerita,
Sebab berjoget Pas mendera
Berebut-rebut pula tali timba,
Dalam pandangan seperti berlaga;
Kalau betul demikian ada,
Perjuangan kebangsaan PAS berpura-pura
Sayang Che Man pergi memukat,
Cincin intan pakai di jari;
Ahli Parlimen bukan malaikat,
Apa salah dia menari?“
The gist of the poem is that Hashim was unhappy with how petty PAS had been about him simply dancing and even accused the party of being pretentious in its fight for the nation. Plus, he said that politicians were human beings too, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to something as simple as dancing?
But none of these meant he gave up though, because after Hashim’s termination from PAS…
He went on to build his own party
You might have heard of this obscure party called Kesatuan Insaf Tanah Air (KITA). It’s not a big party, it’s not a famous party even, but this is the party that Hashim Gera built after getting kicked out of PAS.
According to a Parliament hansard – a fancy name for transcripts of debates held between politicians in Dewan Rakyat – in 1972, Hashim remained the MP for Parit despite his termination and was shown to be rather active in Dewan Rakyat, but he was an independent MP.
It was only in 1974 that he wasn’t so independent anymore, as he and two other independent MPs – Mustaffa Hussein of Seberang Tengah and Ang Bong Hoon of Taiping – went on to build KITA together. The thing, though, was that KITA was only involved in three general elections in 1974, 1978, and 1982, before it kinda disappeared into thin air.
And with that, even Hashim himself also kinda disappeared into thin air – we couldn’t even really find a decent photo of him other than the one with him dancing. The only remnant of him we could find is his son, Salehuddin Hashim.
Not much is known about him, other than the fact that he was once PKR’s secretary general and Anwar Ibrahim’s chief of staff. But he’s not now, because of some trouble he got into with fellow PKR members and his ventures into private business, but that’s a story for another day.
While Hashim Gera himself isn’t a very known name in the Malaysian political scene, older politicians seemed to know him as the politician who was very good in crafting poetry. We, on the other hand, might just remember him as the PAS MP who was brave enough to take up Tunku Abdul Rahman’s challenge to dance joget in Parliament…and ended up getting fired for it.