Why no one in UMNO, whether individuals, branches or divisions, dare to raise the subject of Najib and his kleptocractic government in the current debate on the future of UMNO?
Some press have reported that I have made two contradictory statements on the exodus of UMNO MPs from UMNO yesterday – one when attending the AMANAH national conference in Ipoh in the morning and the other when launching the Malay Mail book “100 Days, 100 Pictures” in Kuala Lumpur in the evening.
These press were wrong, for I did not contradict myself in these two statements.
I pointed out in Ipoh that forty years ago on March 21, 1978, I moved a private member’s bill entitled Members of Parliament (Prevention of Defection) Act 1978 to ensure political integrity of Members of Parliament, 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.
I told Parliament in 1978 that such legislation was important to ensure the political integrity of elected MPs and to prevent political corruption.
I said when introducing the private member’s bill in Parliament:
“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 Assemblyman concerned should have no qualms about getting re-elected.”
I still stand by the principle against defection of MPs which I enunciated in Parliament 40 years ago, that an MP who resigns or is sacked from the party on whose ticket he or she was elected should resign from Parliament and seek a new mandate from the voters in a by-election.
However, there is not only no anti-hopping law in Malaysia, although it is available in other countries like India, Pakistan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Nigeria.
But there is an additional constitutional hurdle in Malaysia, for in the nineties, the Constitution was amended to provide that that if an MP resigns for whatever reason, he or she could not stand for re-election – a constitutional amendment which I had opposed in Parliament.
Until there is such an anti-hopping legislation, and the Constitution amended so that an MP who resigns his or her parliamentary seat cannot contest in any by-election or even general election for a period of five years are removed, the political leadership of any political party should set an example of political integrity to ensure that any party defection by an elected representative is not purely for personal or opportunistic reasons, which would raise grave integrity issues.
This is why I suggested, which I repeated when asked by the media at the launching of the Malay Mail book in Kuala Lumpur later in the evening, that the exodus of UMNO MPs from UMNO must not result in the creation of the image that the pre-eminent consideration of the UMNO MPs leaving UMNO and joining any Pakatan Harapan government was not any opportunistic self-interests, but because of the overriding national interests for a clean, democratic and just Malaysial.
This was why I suggested that the UMNO MPs who have left UMNO and not yet joined any Pakatan Harapan party should publicly atone for their support of Najib Razak and the 1MDB scandal in the past few years, and be prepared to publicly declare their support to Pakatan Harapan efforts to transform Malaysia from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation in integrity; and that those who had been guilty of corruption and other crimes of abuses of power must be hauled to the courts to pay for their crimes.
In the meantime, pressures have been mounting in UMNO for the UMNO President, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi to resign on the ground that the UMNO grassroots have lost confidence in his leadership.
I am surprised that while pressures for Zahid to resign as UMNO President has mounted, no one in UMNO, whether individuals, branches or divisions, dared to raise the subject of Najib and his kleptocractic government in the current debate on the future of UMNO.
It would appear that the pressure for Zahid to resign as UMNO President has nothing to do with any awareness in UMNO to dissociate itself and to repudiate Najib and the 1MDB scandal, as well as to transform Malaysia from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity, but a mere power struggle in UMNO.
If this is the case, then UMNO could not be reformed at all.