Say No To Party-Hopping – Sin Chew

Joan Goh, right, with Junz seated next to her, along with five other Sabah DAP central committee members who quit the party last Sunday.
Joan Goh, right, with Likas Assemblyman Junz Wong seated next to her, along with five other Sabah DAP central committee members who quit the party recently.

from-web

COMMENT: Opposition leaders in Sabah are leaving in droves, many claiming only a local political party could fight for the interests of Sabahans. As for the parties they have just left, these people are labeled “traitors”.

The drama of political frogs keeps unfolding every now and then. While the fable of Frog Prince has warmed the hearts of many a child, the real-life story of elected reps hopping from one party to another has nevertheless entailed issues pertaining to political interests and even a possible change in administration.

The collapse of the PBS state government in 1994 was due to defections of some elected reps. The same went for the Pakatan state government of Perak in 2009.

The same went for the Pakatan state government of Perak in 2009.

The phenomenon of party hopping should indeed come under close scrutiny by us all.

In the political reality of Malaysia, voters choose a candidate largely out of preference for his party, meaning an assemblyman is voted on the ticket of a particular party. Defection after the election is therefore seen by many as a betrayal of electoral mandate.

The question is, freedom of political affiliation is protected under the Federal Constitution, and barring elected reps from party-hopping is therefore unconstitutional.

And since we don’t have any law to stop an elected rep from defecting to a rival party, we can only tackle this issue from the perspectives of political morality and public consensus.

There are voices critical of such a behavior, but we don’t have a civilian force powerful enough to squarely reject party-hopping. The attitude of many towards party-hopping to a large extent is established upon the consideration whether such a move fits into our own political inclination.

PKR and DAP will rebuke such an act when opposition reps defect to the BN, but will welcome the frogs with an open arm if they have hopped the other way round.

PKR and DAP will rebuke such an act when opposition reps defect to the BN, but will welcome the frogs with an open arm if they have hopped the other way round.

No opposition leaders voiced up when Anwar Ibrahim masterminded a Sept 16 change of Federal government in 2008 by enticing BN reps to his camp, with then DAP chairman Karpal Singh being possibly the only opponent. Not even opposition supporters would rise up and object back then.

This proves the point that the appraisal of defection changes in accordance with the realistic conditions. I believe things won’t be much different if the BN were at the receiving end.

Such a wavering attitude that swings with a person’s political stand makes it impossible for us to build a strong and powerful consensus to outright reject party-hopping.

It is therefore essential for us to uphold a consistent stand on such a morally unacceptable political behavior of elected reps in a bid to create powerful public pressure to control the behaviors of our elected reps while form a kind of restrictions on our political parties.

Simply put, we must firmly reject elected reps who renege on public trust, and punish the parties that rope in rival reps.

  • This article first appeared in mysinchew.com. The views expressed herein are that of the writer and in no way means an endorsement by BorneoToday