The only way a man can remain consistent amid changing circumstances is to change with them while preserving the same dominating purpose.– Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945
At the rate governments are falling, one could be excused for concluding that the country is undergoing grave political instability.
I am talking about state governments in Malaya which seem to be falling like a perfectly aligned row of dominos. Or like a friend put it — dropping like ninepins.
First it was Putrajaya. Soon after it was the Johor state government, followed by Melaka, Perak and now Kedah. There is talk that a similar fate might befall Sabah.
No, it’s not the effect of people power. It’s the work of ‘political mercenaries’ or katak (frogs) as these bunch of people’s representatives are popularly known and in the latest political drama, the resignation of two PKR state assemblymen from their party resulted in Pakatan Harapan losing power in Kedah.
The pair decided to be independent representatives, but announced their support for Perikatan Nasional.
The term katak was popularised by the late Sabah politician, Datuk Abdul Malek Chua, a veteran of the state’s rough-and-tumble political scene.
Disappointed with Sabah politicians who switched allegiance and political parties like a woman frequently changing her underwear, he decided to term these unprincipled politicians as ‘frogs’. It even prompted him to write a book entitled, ‘YBs for Sale’.
Perhaps the term monyet (monkeys) would also suit these politicians. (After all monkeys are known to swing from tree to tree at lightning speed, chasing after playmates or food.)
Some of our politicians have hopped to so many parties that I doubt if they could keep track of the number of ‘new homes’ that they have switched to in their political careers. Readers can guess who these YBs are. Which begs the question how we, the voters who put them up there, could stop them from abandoning ship!
Perhaps it’s now timely to revisit the need to enact an anti-hopping law to stop MPs and assemblymen from abandoning their parties and jeopardising political stability. These people have no principle whatsoever and they switch allegiances for personal reasons. The MACC should investigate them.
Whack the mercenaries (verbally of course) if they dare say they are doing it for the people who elected them. Please-lah, don’t give this cock-and-bull excuse.
It’s only right — and morally too — for the seat of an MP or a state lawmaker to become vacant if he/she ceases to be a member of or resigns from his/her political party on whose ticket he/she stood in an election.
Singapore has an anti-hopping law, and 40 other countries have some form of laws against defection or party switching. I simply cannot fathom why in Malaysia there is so much hoo-ha against the promulgation of such a law.
As it is now, Penang is the only state where assemblymen are forced to vacate their seats if they decide to switch sides and this effectively prevents any attempt to switch allegiance.
With party hopping rampant both in Parliament and state assemblies, and the collapse of several state governments, isn’t it about time for our lawmakers to amend the nation’s constitution to allow an anti-hopping law?
But an anti-hopping rule is virtually impossible to pass without first amending the constitution since a Supreme Court decision in 1992 ruled that anti-hopping laws are ultra vires the Federal Constitution.
In that case involving Kelantan assemblyman Nordin Salleh who switched from PAS to Umno, the apex court ruled that PAS’ anti-hopping law was void as it violated freedom of association under Article 10 (1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.
However, there is another obstacle. There is a possibility that any amendment to the constitution and the promulgation of an anti-hopping law could be declared unconstitutional as the issue touched on basic freedom.
Nevertheless, a lawyer said for a start, Parliament has to approve a constitutional amendment to bypass the Supreme Court ruling of 1992.
But with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s government lacking the two-thirds majority to amend the constitution, it may have to enlist the support of the opposition. But in the first place, are the Perikatan Nasional people keen on an anti-hopping rule? And will the opposition fellas give their support to any attempt to amend the constitution?
If you asked me, I say both are not genuinely interested. Both have vested interest in not wanting such a law passed. Both sides are hoping to engage in horse trading and getting YBs to defect.
The only hope is now is for the electorate to play a bigger role in determining the fate of these political mercenaries. Our hope lies in the voters to finish off their political career!
As it is now, we cannot rely on Parliament to do the job.