With the approach of 13th General Election, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in Kedah yesterday would determine UMNO and Barisan Nasional’s survival (or to be more exact, Najib’s own political survival), the UMNO/Barisan Nasional mainstream media are throwing journalistic ethics to the winds and resorting to more lies and falsehoods in their attacks on Pakatan Rakyat leaders.
It is a measure of the increasing desperation felt by UMNO/BN leaders that the next general elections could result in a change of federal government in Putrajaya that the next polls in shaping up to the dirtiest elections in the nation’s 55-year history – with blatant and flagrant lies and falsehoods recklessly spread by UMNO/BN cybertroopers about individual Pakatan Rakyat leaders like the accusation that I had urinated at the flagpole in the Kuala Lumpur residence of the former Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Harun Idris sparking off the May 13 riots in 1969, when I was never in Kuala Lumpur on May 10, 11, 12 or 13, 1969 or the ludicrous allegation that the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had provoked the May 13 riots in his capacity as DAP Youth leader when Guan Eng was only eight years old at the time!
The latest lie and falsehood by UMNO mainstream media is today’s New Straits Times report entitled “’Anti-hopping law unfair and impractical’” on Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s call to introduce a law against party-hopping, which among other things, said:
“The critics pointed out that Lim’s father, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, had even praised members of parliament Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing of Tuaran and Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin of Beaufort when the duo left Barisan Nasional to support the opposition coalition.”
This is pure concoction for up to now, I have not said anything about the actions of Wilfred Bumburing and Lajim Ukiin in leaving Barisan Nasional to support the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
My position against party-hopping by elected representatives had been clear and consistent and I stand by what I said in Parliament 34 years ago when on March 21, 1978, I moved a motion in the Dewan Rakyat to seek the leave of the House to introduce a private member’s bill intituled Members of Parliament (Prevention of Defection) Act 1978 to ensure political integrity of Members of Parliament.
This is what I said in Parliament on March 21, 1978:
“I rise under Standing Order 49(2) to move a motion to seek leave of the House to introduce a Private Member’s Bill intituled Members of Parliament (Prevention of Defection) Act, 1978, which would require a Member of Parliament to vacate his seat within 30 days and cause a by-election to be held on his resignation or expulsion from the Party on whose ticket he was originally elected.
“In November last year, I was invited by a Tamil national daily, Tamil Nesan, to answer question submitted by Tamil Nesan readers. One question that was asked was about the defection of Opposition Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen after their election, in betrayal of the confidence and trust placed on them by the electorate.
“I was asked what effective measure could be taken to prevent such opportunistic political betrayal of the people’s confidence. I replied that the most effective way would be for the enactment of a law requiring a Member of Parliament to vacate his seat and cause a by-election to be held on his resignation or expulsion from the Party on whose ticket he was originally elected. I promised to move a private member’s bill on this matter considering its importance.
“Such a Bill is important so as to ensure the political integrity of elected MPs and to prevent political corruption.
“Nothing disgusts the Malaysian public more than to see MPs or State Assemblymen elected on one party’s ticket and then betray the Party and the people’s trust by switching parties. This makes them very little different from con-men. Such practices debase politics, and strengthen the general impression that ‘politics is dirty’, when it is the dirty people who get into politics to make politics dirty.
“The defection of MPs or State Assemblymen from parties on whose ticket they got elected is most undesirable and unethical, because they are elected not because of their personal qualities, but because of the Party they represent. Such practices also permit elected politicians to be bought and sold as if they are on the market place.
“If an elected MP resigns or is expelled from the Party on whose ticket he was originally elected, then he should resign his seat and cause a by-election to be held. If the resignation and expulsion is over a matter of political principle which has the support of the people, then the MP or State Assemblymen concerned should have no qualms about getting re-elected…
“A law which I am proposing will uphold political integrity of MPs and be a serious deterrent to political corruption. Those who wish to see a cleaner political atmosphere should give it support.”
In fear of MPs resigning on grounds of principle causing by-elections to be held, in 1990, the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad abused the UMNO/BN command of two-thirds parliamentary majority to amend the Constitution providing for a new Article 48(6) which stipulates:
“48(6) – A person who resigns his membership of the House of Representatives shall, for a period of five years beginning with the date on which his resignation takes effect, be disqualified from being a member of the House of Representatives.”
Article 48(6) of the Constitution will have to be revoked if any anti-party hopping legislation is to take full effect – allowing any MP or State Assembly member who resigns on matters of political principle to be able to seek a new mandate from his or her voters by contesting in a by-election.
I have no doubt that both Wilfred Bumburing and Lajim Ukiin would be prepared to resign their parliamentary seats for by-elections to be held to submit to their constituents to secure their support and a new mandate for their political decision to leave the Barisan Nasional and support Pakatan Rakyat – if they are not barred by Mahathir’s Article 48(6) from recontesting a by-election for the next five years.