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Islamist Hadi signals ‘party-hopping’ is kosher

Perhaps a law that requires a politician to quit his or her elected post and later contest the seat again on a different ticket could be the solution

Image: Malaysiakini.com

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Abdul Hadi Awang is reported to have declared that ‘party-hoppers’ are welcome in Islamist Pas, as if implying that purportedly God-fearing men and women view such behaviour to be kosher.

Malaysians who are dead set against such leaps are bound to be appalled as they see party-hopping being disruptive to the democratic process, as well as betraying voters’ trust and aspirations.

While such a warm welcome is not new as it had also been offered by other leaders from both sides of the divide in the past, Hadi’s friendly overtures has the effect of further normalising ‘party-hopping’, which used to be considered as immoral and unethical, and a political aberration.

This came on the heels of a few defections from PKR, the latest being that of the party’s vice-president Dr Xavier Jayakumar, who subsequently styled himself as an independent MP that supports Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. You can’t get more independent than that.

And recently, it was reported that five attempts were made to entice Putatan MP Awang Husaini Sahari to leave PKR and to hop onto the other side of the divide.

It appears that Hadi is so buoyed by the recent leap-frogging spectacle that it prompted him to open his arms to whoever is willing to join his party and, if need be, to be “educated” about the party’s struggle. The person, he said, can leave the party if he or she finally finds the party isn’t suitable.

This approach is akin to putting the cart before the horse as the emphasis is given to the swift luring of outsiders instead of ensuring that the party’s philosophy and struggle are fully understood and appreciated beforehand.

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It also implies that the party ideology, if any, and the ideological conviction of potential members are rendered less important in the haste towards facilitating a party leap. The revolving door is made convenient to those who find benefits, material or otherwise, from passing through it.

The cynical would read it as a lazy and hurried way for parties such as Pas to try to boost party membership and its numerical strength in Parliament and the state assemblies. Poaching has suddenly assumed respectability.

Additionally, the free hopping of politicians carries the impression that they make no ideological distinction between the parties except for the kinds of goodies that are dangled in front of them.

This situation is obviously not good for national politics in the long run, as what we really need are politicians who are driven by certain ideals and party philosophies in the supposed quest to help build a nation and adroitly address the challenges it faces.

While some politicians have no compunction about leap-frogging, to craft a law to prevent such a political stunt would be rightly regarded as violating the freedom of association as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

In the absence of conscience, perhaps a law that requires a politician to quit his or her elected post and later contest the seat again on a different ticket – as suggested by certain politicians and experts – seems like a viable and decent proposition. – The Malaysian Insight

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