The following article is submitted to the Editorial of Malaysia Gazette by Dr. Mohd Azmir Mohd Nizah, Senior Lecturer from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.
Rumors related to some MPs will jump the party across here and there are passionately debated among individuals who are interested in politics and party politics. Attempts to lure, offer or even to bribe being told or reported. The number keeps rising and even involves the same faction parties too! The fact is, it often happens when there is a movement of change in political leadership supports inter or intra parties.
In one aspect, it reflects how strong the practice of democracy in Malaysia is, as happened before March 2020 or right before the 2020 Sabah State Election (PRN Sabah 2020), to the point that such views are supported by Article 10 (1) (c) of the Malaysian Constitution relating to freedom of speech, gather, and associate. In another aspect, it illustrates the dwindling ethics of Malaysian politicians that they tend to set aside the party’s principles and ideology, and prioritize their interests in the name of the rakyat. Both spectrums resulted in an enormous impact on the political stability, economic progress, and slowness of development in Malaysia.
The history of party-hopping in our country has been going on for long now. It was only in 1992 that the Supreme Court or the Federal Court today ruled that prohibition on a member of the assembly to change parties was contrary to the principle of freedom of association. The premise used by the court is absolutely true, because it means for the basic liberties as enshrined in Federal Constitution, and not specifically meant for the politician. But the behavior of these MPs and state assembly members carries far greater consequences than simply changing parties. And in fact, the court may and can make a review of these non-democratic, irresponsible, and immoral practices from continuing to smudge the Malaysian political arena, or else, doldrums are awaited.
Two factors why this anti-party hopping act is so imperative. First, the individual has betrayed the party he subscribed to, while in the parliamentary democracy system of Malaysia, people choose not based on the individual, but on the grounds of a party. This is often discussed academically in terms of the psychological and social psychology of voting before 2008. Post-2008 is the sneak of rational choice voting in electing representatives. And that is when one can see the pattern of people voting changed, much contributed by social development and urbanization process that took place.
Secondly, the behavior of this party hopping ethically violates the basic norms let alone when having a position and a party appointment. It is a sign that the practice of corruption exists, and prevalent in party-hopping practices. An easy comparative approach can be made with the individual as a member of parliament to other individuals who are not. The simple conclusion is, there is no reason an ordinary member will hop to another party unless it is contrary to his political principles, and there is nonentity to fear off, compared to self-importance and materialistic as well as the political self-survival. Certainly, the degree of impact on political stability is very dissimilar. This political phenomenon of “food for belly” will take great catastrophe to the country’s political stability, which will also have an impact on Malaysia’s social and economic development.
Apart from that, it also almost unique when a call for the anti-party hopping act is often in changing hands among political parties. For example, in 1992, as it happened in Kelantan with Article XXX1A (1991) under the government of the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah (APU) with PAS, S46, and several other parties; of 2012 in Penang with Article 14 (A) (1) by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) government, and of 2020 in Selangor by the PH government with passed a motion urging the federal government to pursue anti-party hopping act that approved by the state assembly. It shows seriousness in passing the anti-party hopping party enactment, but there is no seriousness when becoming a federal government just like the Pakatan Harapan government (PH) ruled since 2018.
In the end, it was just a mere political drama. The Perikatan Nasional (PN) also seems indifferent to this issue, perhaps because it is too focused on managing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, or should be given the next mandate to resolve this issue? To be sure, this party-hopping clown and circus have started all over again. The people are mobilized to vote again. This is not a democratic practice, but it is even a violation in the name of democracy. This is serious!
Dr. Mohd Azmir Mohd Nizah,
Faculty of Leadership and Management,
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.