Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi's remark that the Penang Municipal Council low ranking officers are "kucing kurap" (insignificant) landed him in a war of words with former PKR state wanita chief Aminah Abdullah at the Jelutong market in Penang.
Ooi, who was on a constituency visit at the Jelutong market this morning, was approached by an angry Aminah regarding the remark he made while he was speaking to reporters on the issue of illegal hawkers last week.
Aminah, accompanied by her husband, Mohd Rofi Osman, a staff of the MPPP health vector department, told Ooi to withdraw his remark, which supposedly "denigrated" the council's president Pattahiyah Ismail.
Upon seeing her, Ooi said "Oh, political superstar" and walked away from her, declining to respond to her and Rofi.
Unsatisfied, Aminah trailed Ooi, shouting "Tarik balik (withdraw) your kucing kurap statement".
Rofi, also followed, shouting "I am MPPP staff", and scolding Ooi for his comment against Pattahiyah.
"As an MP, how could he say such things?" Rofi shouted, oblivious to the marketgoers who stopped in shock to witness the scene.
As Aminah was trailing Ooi, his aides tried to halt her. One even held her arm, to which she snapped "don't touch me".
When Ooi paid no heed to their demands and went about his job talking to the market vendors, Aminah told the press "We will hound him in every market (until he retracts his remarks)".
Ooi is in hot soup after he criticised MPPP several times, describing them as "ineffective" for despatching low ranking and ill-informed officers to meet him on the issue of illegal hawkers.
He had also taken the MPPP to task for failing to process applications for approval of development plans within the time frame of 108 days, a standard deadline imposed by the federal government.
Ooi said he raised the issue as many investors with billion ringgit projects plans have threatened to pull out their investments from Penang if such lackadaisical attitudes prevailed.
Later, at a press conference in a local coffee shop, Ooi said he stood by his "kucing kurap" comment, adding "I am a kampung boy; I grew up with this term".
"But it is not deragatory, so what is there to retract. They (Aminah and Rofi) are political superstars but I won't stoop so low to entertain them," said Ooi.
"I mentioned "kucing kurap" because as an MP, I should be dealing with officers from the appropriate rank, such as chiefs or head of departments, not a junior officer who knows nothing," he added.
"They (MPPP) insulted me, a two term elected MP, when they send such small fry to deal with me. So, I have to teach them a lesson. They are just appointees," he stressed.
Since Aminah, who heads a Malay NGO, Persatuan Kebajikan Insan Mulia, left PKR in 2007, she has been a vocal critic of the Penang government and Pakatan Rakyat, often appearing at the Speakers Square at the Esplanade to air her grievances.
Ooi, who was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's chief of staff, said he was a man of action as the "A" in DAP means action, not just talk.
He added that he wants proper statistics and facts on the issues - unapproved development plans and illegal hawkers - in order to improve the delivery system of the MPPP.