Don’t rakyat count in political numbers game?

The move by some elected reps to jump ship appears to trivialise the people’s interests and concerns. – EPA pic, May 15, 2020.

* Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

WHILE Malaysians are grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing economic hardship, some politicians are busy indulging in shenanigans that have brought about the collapse of the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan state governments of Johor, Perak and Malacca.

The status of the PH administration in Kedah seems dodgy now.

Several PH assemblymen have joined Perikatan Nasional parties or become PN-friendly, to the effect of destabilising and eventually reducing the PH majority in the state assemblies concerned. These defections occurred in the wake of the “Sheraton Move” that ultimately triggered the collapse of the PH federal government in February.

It is disconcerting that such brazen moves were made, as if the people’s interests and concerns are trivial. These politicians appear to have lost the essence of being elected representatives, and betrayed the mandate of the people who voted for them on their respective party tickets.

As if this isn’t enough, the people’s sensibilities have been severely offended by the uncouth conduct of some reps. Human and political decency has been thrown out the window, which partly explains why non-government media outlets have been barred from covering certain proceedings.

Political foes were called names from the animal world, votes were counted when rival politicians were not present, and there was an alleged attempt to forcibly remove an assembly speaker during a session.

Are ordinary Malaysians expected to be helpless spectators to such arrogance?

To be sure, defections are not new in the country’s political landscape. In fact, such acts have implicated parties from both sides of the divide.

In the 1994 state elections, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) led by Joseph Pairin Kitingan won by a slim majority, securing 25 seats against Barisan Nasional’s 23. The fourth-term PBS government collapsed after about two weeks following defections to BN.

There was also an attempt to dislodge the BN federal government on September 16, 2008 by the opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim, but it failed even though a few MPs did promise to jump ship.

After PH became the government, its components, particularly Bersatu, accepted defectors from Umno to bolster their numbers.

Of course, this isn’t to say two wrongs make a right, and the fact that it has occurred a few times over the years shouldn’t make it normal, either.

The defections that have occurred recently are worrying enough to prompt political observers and concerned Malaysians to call for a halt to such developments. This is especially so at a time when attention should be focused on battling the pandemic and addressing the economic problems faced by Malaysians, particularly the needy.

As in the past, an anti-hopping law has been suggested to tackle the problem of defections. However, those taking this road have been rightfully reminded about the constitutional provision of freedom of association. Hence, jumping ship is indeed legit.

Political disillusionment and ideals may drive a politician to resign from their party, and they should, therefore, have the freedom to make the conscious decision to join another. However, as illustrated by the above examples, most cases involve political expediency rather than ideals, especially when some have been lured by handsome financial rewards.

While an anti-hopping law may not necessarily be an ironclad guarantee to ensure politicians of strong moral fibre, it is hoped that it would go a long way towards helping build some leaders of high integrity. It is also essential for good governance.

Admittedly, it’s a long road towards crafting such a law, as there are constitutional obstacles to be overcome. But a start must be made.

After all, shouldn’t the interests and concerns of the rakyat come before the vested interests of questionable politicians? – May 15, 2020.

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  • It was never about Rakyat.

    Posted 4 years ago by Zarul MA · Reply

  • Those unprincipled crooked politicians are only interested in enriching themselves. Those 'serving the people' words are just to trick the voters. The voters will become the suckers after the election.

    Posted 4 years ago by Chee yee ng · Reply

  • They, the politicians always claimed its for the RAKYAT & NATION at large but when such things took place they are been selfish and some can be even bought with cash, If they says its for the RAKYAT and in the true sense of democracy they must explained their reason and rationale and seek the approval and mandate from the RAKYAT first before making such move. At the moment theres nothing we the RAKYAT can do anything about it. We felt disgust and awe about it. Well something ought to be done about it that they just cant simply jump ship or switch camps especially during the tenure that they were voted in by the RAKYAT. It is high time to have a law for all elected representative the so called YB to adhered to else it is pointless to have election. Malaysian doesnt deserve to be backstabbed by the very people we voted for.

    Posted 4 years ago by Teruna Kelana · Reply

  • Well said and so very true. We the people, threw out a corrupt Government. These MPS soho switch allegiance just seem to do it to take care of their political careers. This is just so ethically troubling and it shouldn't be that bloody easy to jump ship. How are to trust the the next time we vote, that it will be rendered meaningless?

    Posted 4 years ago by Sunita petrus · Reply