Stop playing around with the electorate

Have any of these elected representatives spoken to their voters before making their decisions in the first place? No one has taken the trouble to do so.

By Zainal Epi, The Malay Mail

Behrang State assemblyman Jamaluddin Mat Radzi announced yesterday he was leaving Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to become an independent assemblyman, citing a serious tiff with party leaders as the overriding factor behind his decision.

His Changkat Jering comrade Osman Jailu, whose undated resignation letter was also tendered by Perak State Assembly Speaker to the Election Commission, is widely rumoured to follow suit.

Jamaluddin’s action has left the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) State government with 31 seats while Barisan Nasional (BN) has 27 seats after its Bota State assemblyman Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim jumped ship to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) last week.

Sadly, party hopping is likely to be a fixture for some time, considering the fact that the ruling BN government had failed to obtain a two-thirds majority in Parliament while some PR State governments are being governed with the slimmest of majorities.

As history dictates, some elected representatives, whether truly looking for political parties that complement their principles or those that can promote their own interests, do not have any qualms jumping ship.

While they dish out the standard excuse of trying to protect the interests of the electorate, no one has been really interested in finding out if the voters are with them in the matter.

Have any of these elected representatives spoken to their voters before making their decisions in the first place? No one has taken the trouble to do so.

In fact, no one has bothered to run a survey among the electorate to gauge their opinion on what they think of candidates who jump ship on the pretext of protecting their interests.

Candidates who jump ship, labelled as "katak" (frogs) in the political circuit, have been doing so for ages without consulting their electorate.

While criticisms have been made against the ruling party, those in the opposition have not been angels themselves.

PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, for instance, had several times last year announced that there would be elected representatives from the ruling BN jumping over to his party.

Sarawak leaders are purportedly being targeted by the PR alliance, which, ironically, is facing the repercussions of exactly the same tactic in Perak.

While those who play the game feel that these were necessary acts of survival, there are no winners at the end of the day, with the electorate being lumped as the greatest losers at the end of it all.

They had voted in the representatives based on the candidate’s ability, honesty and such; and the ideals of the party he or she represents.

They had "channelled" their hopes and dreams through the ballot boxes in hope of putting the right candidate in power to represent them.

Instead, some of them are left cheated when their candidates, who had promised to be trustworthy and accountable, jump ship.

This must stop. Anti-hopping laws are a good deterrent to safeguard the electorate as well as to curb political buy-outs.

After all, democracy shouldn’t be about serving the interests of the priviliged few. It must be totally about serving the people, and that is something one cannot put a price tag on.