In June 2002, Hasim Abdul Halim, the parliamentary speaker in India's West Bengal Assembly, ordered that his ceremonial mace be removed from the chamber and brought to a museum.

Because speakers had carried the mace since 1934 -- a tradition inspired by the British House of Commons -- the move caused a minor scandal. "The mace is a very important part of our colonial heritage," one critic complained. "Without it the proceedings would be incomplete."

So why had Halim demanded that the 14 kg silver mace be removed? Because, he explained, MPs had been snatching it from his table to threaten their rival during debates!

["There is no point in continuing with the practice when honourable members cannot maintain decorum and are constantly undermining my authority. I have decided to remove the mace in the interest of discipline."]

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