KUCHING, Dec 14: Rise of Sarawak Efforts (ROSE) said the ongoing exodus of Umno assemblymen and parliamentarians from their party was deeply disconcerting as it suggested that these elected representatives were not committed to public service but for personal gains.
ROSE spokesperson Ann Teo pointed out that party-hopping not only subverts the will of the people who vote them in but it made a mockery of the democratic process and indeed undermined the trust of voters in the electoral system and party system.
“We had earlier thought that they will rise to be a formidable opposing force post 14th General Election (GE14),” she said in a press statement today.
“After all, one of the hallmarks of a functioning and strong democracy is a strong opposition as a counterbalancing force and checks on power.”
Teo was commenting on the Umno exodus, in which, according to a report in Free Malaysia Today yesterday, at least 32 Umno MPs have switched allegiance to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
On Wednesday, 36 elected representatives, senators and division heads in Sabah announced that they were leaving Umno, effectively crippling the party’s state chapter that was established in 1991.
Teo added that such posturing of elected representatives after the formation of the new government for personal gain, self-interest and position must be strongly condemned.
“It also undermines the very essence of the political party system. It suggests that MPs who party hop have no interests or commitment to their party’s ideological positions. Indeed, it suggests MPs are merely into politics for personal gains and not for public service.
“It also suggests that MPs are not interested in building up their own parties or advancing their party’s ideological position within public discourse or to improve good governance in the country,” she added.
ROSE noted that 41 countries in the world, including India, New Zealand and Singapore, required MPs to relinquish their seats if they wished to cross party.
In Malaysia, she said that anti-party hopping laws were currently deemed unconstitutional.
Hence, Teo emphasised that there was a need for more debates and discussions on not just the morality of such party-hopping behaviours and defections but also the need for electoral reforms, including imposing some form of rules or guidelines on political parties or parliamentarians themselves while not denying them the freedom to dissociate or associate.
“This may include a law that allows a certain percentage of voters of a particular constituency to trigger or petition for a recall of their MP to hold elected representatives to account to the people,” she suggested.
“This will be on the basis of stated serious wrongdoing or misconduct and a by-election will be called and the people’s mandate sought.”
As a concerned citizens-action group working on voter empowerment, ROSE, thus, called on Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties to act responsibly so as not to trigger any instability in the political system, including within its own coalition.
“It will take much more than just the prime minister-in-waiting declaring that PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) will not accept such party hoppers,” she concluded. — DayakDaily