The World Anthem




 by e.s. shankar

The wound is the place where the LIGHT enters you. Rumi 1207-1273.

I am writing this as a layman and wish to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).[1]

Political Party Hopping is known across the world by many names – Switching, Decamping, Crossing the Aisle, Cross-Carpeting, Crossing the Floor, Switching or plain Defecting, Crosstitution (alluding to prostitution) etc.

Political Party Hopping, known as ‘katakking’ (frogging) locally, besides corruption, has destroyed general election results and democracy like nothing else. Rarely has any politician in Malaysia hopped because they heroically embraced universally accepted principles. Most of the destructive hopping in Malaysia has happened because of corruption and money. Ridiculous sums have been mentioned, but something between RM20-30 million seems to be the ballpark going rate figure for each hop.

The two most famous incidents in recent times of katakking in Malaysia happened when:

1. In January 2009, 3 Pakatan Harapan (PH) state assemblymen in Perak hopped over to Barisan National (BN), causing the downfall of the PH state government. This was the notorious ‘Perak Coup’. Till today, many legal experts believe that the Court of Appeal's decision accepting the swearing in of the replacement BN government, was Constitutionally very, very deeply flawed.

2. In February 2020, the infamous ‘Sheraton Hotel Move’ and the treachery of then PM Mahathir from PH saw the fall of the PH federal Government. MP’s and State Assemblypersons katakked all over Malaysia, some more than once even before GE14! The states of Johor, Kedah, Perak and Melaka, and Sabah, fell to the Opposition and Perikatan Nasional, slammed as the “Backdoor government” and even worse in Malay by furious and outraged citizens.

A lot has been written on this topic by experts and NGO’s like Bersih and the well-known and respected Dr.Wong Chin Huat (PhD), a political scientist, activist and columnist. These are for the lawmakers and MP’s to read when they draft the AHL. Refer How To Deter Party Hopping In Malaysia

On 29 August, Azalina Othman, the ex-Deputy Speaker in Parliament and a die-hard UMNO MP since 2004, suggested Parliament pass at its next sitting a ‘Recall Bill’ which is more or less the same as an AHL.  She had resigned from her post on 23 August. This is of course nothing new as such a reform was already included in the ‘Institutional Reform Committee (IRC)’ Report prepared under ex-Bar Council President, ex-Bersih Chairperson and lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasen and submitted to Mahathir in July 2018. Ketuanist Mahathir criminally put that report at the bottom drawer of his desk and blocked all reforms. Seven months later, his betrayal of PH led to an avalanche of MP’s katakking to unelected PN and the end of the elected PH government.

Azalina’s call, to put it mildly, is incredible because:

1. She has never suggested anything remotely democratic like this in 17 years. Can her motives be pure? She seems to be more focussed towards stopping defections from the new backdoor UMNO/PN/PAS/GPS Sarawak loose coalition of which she is a member.

2. She remained silent while Mahathir, Muhyiddin and Shafie Apdal were sacked from UMNO over the1MDB RM30 Billion and SRC RM4 Billion frauds scandal implicating Najib!

3. In 2018, she helped in the first reading of a private members Bill in Parliament, RUU355, championed by PAS for harsher Syariah punishment in the states. Who knows, it could eventually have led to the introduction of more severe Taliban-type hudud laws. UMNO backed PAS, not because it really wanted to enhance cruel punishment, but thought it would get them more Malay/Muslim votes at GE14. In the event, it was a stragedy (strategy+tragedy). BN lost GE14 to PH for the first time in 61 years since Independence in 1957.

What should Malaysia do? AHL or Recall Bill?

I humbly suggest KISS. We need not try and re-invent the wheel. Why? Simply because the AHL has already been included in the Constitution of Singapore. You can bet your bottom dollar that they would have weighed the pros and cons of AHL in minute detail before they amended their Constitution in 1963. Here are the main items in the Singapore AHL. A MP has to vacate office if the party splits or one:

1. ceases to be a citizen.

2. is expelled or resigns from the political party he stood for at elections.

3. resigns by notice to Parliament.

4. is expelled by Parliament.

5. is declared to be mentally unfit.

6. is absent from Parliament for more than a certain period, say due to prolonged illness.

7. is convicted of an election offence.

8. is convicted in court and sentence to jail for not less than 1 year or to a fine of not less than S2,000.

The key questions are:

1. Who retains the seat and voting right in Parliament? My opinion – it should be the party and not the MP. Many argue that people vote for the individual. I disagree. Malaysia has been ruled since 1957 by a coalition of parties. Other than Independents, all candidates battle under a registered party and logo/flag. Some Independents too have campaigned under a party’s logo/flag.

2. The same applies to an Independent MP who switches to a political party.

3. How will the situation be resolved? As soon as the Speaker in Parliament is notified in writing, the AHL law shall come into effect and the MP shall lose all powers and voting rights. A by-election shall be held within, max 45 days.

4. Who shall oversee the process? Azalina’s Recall Bill will involve complicated, convoluted Parliamentary procedures and the most dreaded thing of all, possible involvement of  judges and courts and their “interpretations”. KISS. The MP's cannot be trusted to police themselves. Let the Election Council (EC) handle the A-Z of it. This of course means that the Constitution will have to be amended and appointments to the EC removed from the powers of the prime minister. A bipartisan committee of Parliament should be given that task to maintain the independence of the EC.

5. Someone else wrote last week that AHL would be Unconstitutional and Immoral because the Constitution guarantees the right of citizens (and MP’s) to freedom of association.

This is of course nonsense. AHL only makes it illegal for MP's to remain in office if they defect. It does not stop them from associating with anyone or any political party. We are guaranteed the right to own and drive a car. But if we commit a serious traffic offence or cause a driving death, that right can be (rightly) curtailed by temporary suspension or permanently.

Ultimately, WE, THE PEOPLE, elect our MP’s and State Assemblypersons. This principle has been in force across the world for nearly 250 years now. Governments are instituted among PEOPLE, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed - the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, i.e. I, You, We and Us, the mass of ordinary PEOPLE, not just the super rich or elites. The Constitution and Parliament do not “give us the rights”; WE, THE PEOPLE, determine what is fair and right and draft the Constitution and tell Parliament what to do! We must take back our country from the snake-oil salesmen and wolves in sheep’s clothing masquerading as democrats. We must collectively own the government.

If once having gotten our votes, the MP's defiantly and openly betray the People’s rights and trust due to corruption and money, it is WE, THE PEOPLE who shall reserve the right to throw them out or re-appoint that person and political party, not some dubious MP’s in Parliament or judges or courts. 

We also have an archaic system where Senators are not elected. We must use this opportunity to amend the Constitution so that unelected person cannot be appointed to the Cabinet and Deputy Minister’s posts and other positions in government and public institutions through the ‘backdoor’ as it were! Otherwise, accountability is diminished.

So, let’s follow the Singapore law. Let’s not complicate it and create more gaji buta (sinecure) Parliamentary committees and Quangos which will leech on us and suck dry the Taxpayers’ hard earned money.

Let’s KISS and make up!

[1] #1 This is just literary licence and not an attempt to mock anyone or insult readers. Thank you.πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ



SAT said...

Recall election

YLC said...

sharing from ES Shankar, as aLways, an excellent Write, a fellow BUMme but you may KISS and share this one

MMA said...

Why no mention of PH buying mps right after winning the election?