Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider
Lim Guan Eng today deflected criticisms of hypocrisy against the DAP’s plan to enact anti-hopping laws in Penang, insisting that the party has always been against defections as a means to gain political power.
The DAP secretary-general acknowledged that in Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) September 16 takeover attempt in 2008, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had pre-empted Barisan Nasional’s (BN) fall in Putrajaya through mass defections into PR, but said that even then, the DAP had been against the idea of using crossovers to wrest federal power.
“This was suggested by Anwar, when he mentioned the disillusionment of some MPs but DAP’s position is clear.
“Anyone can jump parties but it is important that there should be a fresh mandate,” Lim said today.
The September 16 affair led by Anwar has continued to haunt the federal opposition, and was raised again recently when Lim’s DAP-led administration in Penang proposed an anti-hopping law to prevent such crossovers.
Lim repeated today that his government’s proposal would not curb an individual’s right to free association under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution as it does not forbid the individual from joining another party.
What is most important, he said, was to uphold the democratic right of voters by allowing the electorate to re-elect their representative if a parliamentarian or assemblyman decides to switch political camps.
The Bagan MP questioned BN’s rejection of the DAP’s anti-hopping law proposal, suggesting that this meant the ruling pact was still keen on trading elected representatives to help them gain political power when needed.
Lim again cited the case of Perak, which saw a shift in government in 2009 from PR to BN when two PKR and one DAP assemblymen left their respective parties to become BN-friendly independents.
“Why does BN refuse to have this anti-hopping law? Do they still want to trade in defections?” he asked.
The DAP’s proposal in Penang has been met with harsh criticism from several BN leaders, with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek sniping at the party for maintaining silence when PR welcomed defectors from BN into its fold.
The most recent case was the crossover of two senior Sabah BN MPs — Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing and Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin — who left their posts in BN to form PR-friendly political movements in the east Malaysian state.
But Lim pointed out today that the DAP has not made any direct statements regarding the duo’s twin defections, insisting again that the party was still opposed to crossovers that do not result in re-elections.
“We have not commented on their decisions. We have only said that there should be an anti-hopping law.
“By leaving BN, it just shows that they have lost confidence in the prime minister and the Sabah chief minister... but what we add is this — let us have an anti-hopping law,” he said.
Asked if the DAP planned on raising the issue in the PR leadership council to push for similar laws to be enacted in all PR-led state governments, Lim said: “Let us start with Penang first. Let this be the first step.”
He said the DAP’s proposal in Penang will soon be formalised during the next state executive council meeting.