KUCHING: Malaysians can expect their first woman Parliament speaker in the nation’s history come July 16 when the next parliament sitting commences.
This was hinted by Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran in an exclusive interview with The Borneo Post’s sister paper Oriental Daily in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
According to the Ipoh Barat MP, who is from Democratic Action Party (DAP), the announcement on the new Parliament speaker – expected by the end of this month – will surprise Malaysians.
Despite suggesting that the new speaker is a woman, Kulasegaran said the person in question is neither Seputeh MP Teresa Kok nor Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, both of DAP.
Yeoh was the country’s first woman speaker when she was sworn in as Selangor State Legislative Assembly speaker in 2013.
On the coming parliament sitting, Kulasegaran said never once had he dreamed of being seated on the right side of the speaker in the chamber, which is traditionally designated for MPs from the ruling parties.
Hence, he said will always bear in mind that he is now able to have a seat on the right side of the speaker thanks to the choice made by the people in the 14th general election.
“When I was first elected as an MP in 1997, party leaders told me that as an opposition MP, I had to speak without fear or favour. Only by so doing could I represent the people of this nation.”
Kulasegaran, who used to practise law, said over the years, he had obtained a better understanding on how to help the B40 group in the nation, and is confident that he would be able to fight for the welfare and interest of the group.
The B40 group refers to the bottom 40 per cent of households with monthly income of RM3,900 and below.
“I am able to relate to the needs of the B40 group as I was raised in a rubber plantation site and lived in hardship.”
The 61-year-old said he wanted to show Malaysians that for as long as they are willing to take up the challenge and learn to enjoy while climbing up the career ladder, they can achieve more in life and may even end up becoming a minister.
For Kulasegaran, his obligation as a politician is not just to his constituents or his ministry, but for the affairs concerning the Indian community as well.
He said he will not rule out working together with the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) when it comes to enhancing the social welfare and benefits of Indians in the country.
On his relationship with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he said it was a ‘foe-turned-friend’ situation as Dr Mahathir was also prime minister – and head of Umno and Barisan Nasional – when he (Kulasegaran) was first elected into parliament in 1997.
He described Dr Mahathir as a “93-year-old young man” who is not just devoted to his role and duty, but a very ‘calculative’ leader who makes every sen count.
“The prime minister is resolute and committed to making Malaysia great again,” said Kulasegaran, who showcased his multilingualism during the interview by also speaking in Mandarin, Cantonese and even some words in Hokkien.