British Columbia·Video

B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal withdraws Punjabi remark made in legislative assembly

MLA Jinny Sims called Johal's remark "inflammatory, insulting and totally unacceptable."

Johal called the Surrey NDP MLAs 'chamchas,' a term he defined as 'sycophants'

On Tuesday, Liberal MLA Jas Johal called the NDP MLAs representing Surrey a 'bunch of chamchas,' a Punjabi term he defined as 'sycophants.' (Legislative Assembly of B.C.)

Liberal MLA Jas Johal raised a few eyebrows when he deployed a Punjabi term to describe his NDP colleagues in the legislative assembly Monday.

Johal, who represents Richmond-Queensborough, was speaking during oral question period about the issue of changes to the agricultural land reserve. He accused the minister of agriculture of not meeting with an association of farmers from Surrey. 

Directing his comments to NDP members from Surrey, B.C., Johal said they were "not taking care of their members and their constituents."

"There's a word in Punjabi called chamcha," Johal, who is of Punjabi heritage, said. "It means sycophant. There's no better term to describe these Surrey MLAs — a bunch of chamchas. They've done nothing to advocate for those farmers."

Watch the video of Jas Johal's comments

Liberal MLA Jas Johal uses the Punjabi term chamchas to describe his NDP colleagues. 1:25

What is a chamcha?

The word chamcha — which is also found in Hindi — is an informal slang term. While it is defined as "sycophant," it is colloquially more akin to "puppet" or "suck-up."

Punjabi and Hindi speakers in B.C. took note.

Johal withdraws comment

On Tuesday, Surrey-Panorama NDP MLA Jinny Sims, who is also of Punjabi heritage, asked for Johal to withdraw his comments and apologize.

"I found that language that was used yesterday inflammatory, insulting and totally unacceptable," Sims said. 

Watch the video of Jinny Sims' comments:

MLA Jinny Sims asks for Johal to withdraw his comments and apologize. 1:02

Johal withdrew his comment.

According to the 2016 census, 198,805 British Columbians speak Punjabi. It is the most widely spoken language in the province after English. 

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