February 19, 2019
Party-hopping is a morally and ethically repugnant thing
We are falling into a moral and ethical abyss when even a plain, simple, morally and ethically repugnant thing such as party-hopping is being condoned by a large section of the population.
It’s gotten so bad that even those who vehemently opposed party-hopping before are now condoning the action of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who welcomed seven former UMNO members into Bersatu’s folds, joining two earlier to take Bersatu’s number of MPs from a mere 13 to 22. And there will be more.
There are now some who are talking about the need to get a two-thirds majority for Pakatan Harapan so that the constitution can be amended to implement major changes for the future.However, even laws that could be changed by a simple majority have been left untouched more than nine months after the change in government. All the talk of change, but no change yet!
But first, let’s examine this issue of party-hopping and see how reprehensible it has been and how it has been abused in the past.
The BN government, even when it was under Mahathir, used party-hopping to topple state governments, notably in Sabah and more recently in Perak. Anwar Ibrahim threatened to use it in 2008 to topple the legitimately elected BN government then, but that did not materialise.
Why party-hopping is insidious – and most of us know this – is that it frustrates the legitimate aspirations and the votes of the rakyat. If the majority voted for an UMNOo candidate, the electorate doesn’t necessarily want him to turn into a Harapan candidate.
If these acts are repeated across the board, the intention of the rakyat to change the government can be frustrated by inducing party members to cross sides. Sometimes, money is an inducement, at other times power, and at other times immunity against prosecution. Most people will agree that this has been freely done in Malaysia.
That does not make it right – it is wrong because money, power, threats and influence can be used to induce a person to cross parties and, in the extreme, cause a change of government in direct opposition to what the electorate voted for. No one wants that, except those who benefit. Only a person who is morally and ethically bankrupt and corrupt will advocate party-hopping.The only way to stop this wrong thing is to make it illegal – simply require the representative who party-hops or leaves the party he was elected under to resign and have fresh elections held. That way, the will of the electorate will be maintained and not thwarted as now.
That many (including some who opposed it before) now condone this under some vague circumstances such as gaining a two-thirds majority for Mahathir or getting Malay support or both is a reflection of the lack of idealism among many sensible Malaysians, including professionals and the educated.
It is an attitude that needs to be resisted with all our might and it is time for people to call a spade a spade. The other parties in Harapan – PKR, DAP and Amanah – must voice their displeasure and oppose this move by Bersatu to accept morally decadent defectors or ask Bersatu to leave the coalition. But too many of them have been converted, including some leaders.
They crow about repentance and getting a two-thirds majority for change, but don’t even have the guts to push for change which should have happened with a simple majority. The rakyat did not intend for a two-thirds majority for Harapan – it should not be manufactured now against the wishes of the people.
A simple majority is enough to initiate change provided the coalition is sincere in doing so and is organised along the lines of working towards reform and the well-being of all which, of course, includes the Malays. Once this is initiated, Malay support will automatically flow.
Sour wine, new bottles
To say that you get Malay support by getting Malay MPs is a lie if it is UMNOmno MPs because these people supported a lying, kleptocratic government – and all of them partook of the loot. Now you forgive them because they have changed? Are they not part of the previous UMNO which betrayed Malays by looting the country in many ways besides 1MDB?
It is naive ridiculous to think they will be an asset to the Malays because they are tainted and will go back to their old ways. Even the Malays don’t want that. What you want is a new, honest, competent lot who will work for the betterment of the poorer Malays, not old, sour wine in new bottles.
Mahathir talks about changing circumstances and not supporting a kleptocratic government to justify hopping. But these people supported the kleptocratic government when it mattered most and knew the government was robbing the country.
If after winning on a Harapan ticket promising to quash robbery in government, Mahathir now joined UMNO, would that not be a reprehensible betrayal of the rakyat which should be resisted? Of course, it would be. And is he not doing a similar thing when he admits tainted people? Of course, he is. As long as our moral compass as a people is straight and points true north, neither Mahathir nor Anwar nor anybody else who has used or threatened to use party-hopping as a means of altering power can persuade us that it is right or even necessary. It is always wrong! Period.
Anti-party-hopping laws are a necessity to stop this abuse once and for all. It is imperative that people lend their undivided, unequivocal support against this insidious, invidious practice which threatens our hard-fought and hard-won budding democracy and a bright, equitable future for all of us and our sons and daughters that it promises.
If you thought that this is against the constitution and freedom of association, that is “BS” too as prominent constitutional scholar Shad Saleem Faruqi said in Coping with party-hopping written in 2008 when Anwar Ibrahim was contemplating his ill-fated, ill-thought-out, immoral and unethical attempt to change the government via party-hopping.
The gist of this article as it pertains to party-hopping is that freedom of association in Article 10(1)(c) of the constitution can be restricted on the permissible ground of “morality” in Article 10(2)(c). However “the court expressed the astounding view that ‘morality’ in Article 10 refers to sex morality and not ‘political morality’”.
Shad Faruqi added, “[…] the federal Parliament may act under the authority of Article 10(2)(c) to ban party-hopping. This article provides that ‘Parliament may by law impose on the right (to form associations) such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of morality.’
“General laws on morality require a simple, and not a two-thirds, majority. The law will, however, be challenged on the basis of the Nordin Salleh ruling. The High Court and the Court of Appeal will be bound by the Federal Court decision. But the Federal Court is competent to overrule itself. It is likely that it will depart from the bizarre ruling in 1992 that morality in Article 10 refers merely to sexual morality.”
With all the ruckus over corruption and unfair decisions in the judiciary, it will be a fair bet to assume that the judiciary, so compromised during Mahathir’s time and beyond, will now be much more disposed to redeem itself from the many sins of its dubious, questionable past.
P GUNASEGARAM says moral and ethical issues are more often black and white, although there is emerging a convenient predilection to see them in various shades of grey. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.