Of late it has been deeply disturbing to read of elected representatives resigning from their political parties on whose platform they were voted. They say they want to be independents which they expect the people to believe. It is common knowledge that they would soon cross over to the party which the people rejected. As there are no laws forbidding such defections and cross-overs, our elected representatives have only been too willing to do so with the slightest excuse thereby leaving their constituents in limbo.
The widely proclaimed takeover of the federal government by the defection of members of Parliament (MP) to the opposition soon after the last general elections, the collapse of the government in Perak by defections of state assemblypersons and now the present spate of resignations from an opposition party are all examples of a willingness by our elected representatives to cross over from one party to another across the political divide for their own benefit.
Many would say it is an act of betrayal of the voters and morally wrong. These may be debatable but what is definitely true is that such defections lead to great political and economic instability in the country which is the last thing we can afford.
This party-hopping is nothing new in Malaysia politics. It has been practiced before and will continue to be so in the future if left unchecked as it is legally not wrong. Political changes may dictate the need for an elected representative to leave his party but for the sake of the people who had placed their trust in him, he or she should continue to serve them in accordance with the manifesto presented to them until the next elections when he can re-seek the people’s mandate on a new political platform.
In Malaysia, members of parliament and state assemblypersons are voted in based mainly on the party to which they belong and less so on their individual qualities and merits. This practice may be far from ideal and has to change, which I think it will, in time. Crossing over to another party after being elected as a representative of another is definitely not the right thing to do as it amounts to going against the wishes of the voters.
Of greater wrong is the buying-over of would-be defectors from other parties. Such money politics is an act of corruption that must be condemned. The MACC must investigate these defectors for the possibility of material inducements as the reason of such crossovers.
It is timely to introduce laws to declare a seat vacant and call for fresh elections once its MP or state assemblyperson crosses over to another political party. Such a law would not only help check defections but also put pressure on the party leadership to be more stringent in the selection of their candidates.
It will ensure that only those with loyalty, integrity and credibility are selected thereby making the people the ultimate gainers from such an anti-hopping legislation. The political uncertainties in Perak could have been avoided if only there was such a law that forbids party-hopping.
MPs and state assemblypersons are lawmakers who represent the people’s interests in the highest legislative body, Parliament and the state assemblies. Their deliberations and debate on policies to be formulated will decide the present and future shape of the nation and its citizens.
It is therefore of paramount importance that only those with a high integrity and credibility are selected. It is unfortunate that Malaysians are being led by representatives who lack the conviction to serve the people who elected them under difficult times.
Elected representatives should place the interest of their constituents above theirs when deciding to leave for a different party. Political parties, both the ruling and opposition, should respect the verdict of the people.
They should work to fulfill their pledges and strive to win over the hearts of the people by their commitment to serve them better and not be focused with gaining power through the backdoor by inducing defections and crossover from other parties. There are no shortcuts to winning the hearts of the people other than hard work, dedication and sincerity, all of which many of our ‘wakil rakyat’ sadly lack.