Will Muhyiddin continue to support Ismail Sabri as Prime Minister if Bersatu is completely wiped out by UMNO in the Malacca general election?

There is a lot of attention in the Malacca general election on “political frogs" but there is no proper discussion on political principles and integrity as if it is a sin and an unpardonable crime to change political parties.

Winston Churchill changed political parties twice, firstly as a Conservative when he first became Member of Parliament in 1901, but he became a Liberal in 1904 protesting against “protectionism” in the Conservative Party. In 1923, he returned to the Conservative Party in protest against Liberal-Labour co-operation.

Was Churchill wrong? I would not say so, as Churchill’s political shift was one of principle and he was prepared to face the verdict of the electorate.

This was why when I suggested in Parliament on March 21, 1978 for a law to prevent party-hopping, I said:

“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.”

During my first five years as MP for Bandar Melaka and DAP Secretary-general, I went through a baptism of fire.

At that time, “political frogs” were the currency of the day, and one third of 13 DAP MPs and 31 State assemblymen elected in the 1969 general election eventually defected, falling victim to the Barisan Nasional tactics of inducement or pressure of intimidation. One defected DAP MP rose to become a full MCA Minister.

There was a serious attempt to fulfil the prediction of a senior government leader in the early seventies that the DAP was “one foot in the grave”, especially after I rejected the MCA overture in 1971 to dissolve the DAP to join the MCA for a few DAP leaders to become Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

I had no hesitation in rejecting the MCA overture to become a Minister when I was only 28 years ago, for I do not believe defections and betrayals of political principles were the ways to achieve the DAP’s Malaysian First objective.

DAP was not a political party for the Chinese, but a political party for all Malaysians – a principle which we hold strong and dear, whatever the political vicissitudes.

But the commitment of party leaders and members to the Malaysian First objective and not to Malays first, Chinese first, Indians first, Kadazans first or Ibans first, held the party together and we have grown from strength to strength.

Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in an online address for the Malacca polls on Facebook last night that he made the decision to set up Bersatu because the situation of the country was “ bad because of the kleptocracy issue”.

He said he was the man behind the formation of Bersatu and not former Prime Minister and party chairman, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

This reminded me of the cloak-and-dagger meeting with Muhyiddin Yassin on 25th July 2016 at Le Meridien Hotel where Muhyddin solicited DAP’s support for him to become the Prime Minister.

I declined to do so as the DAP was committed to Anwar Ibrahim as the Prime Minister candidate.

I am most interested in Muhyiddin’s “confession” last night for it was powerful testimony of Muhyiddin’s betrayal of Pakatan Harapan manifesto to rebuild the nation and fulfil the hopes of the people

Muhyiddin said Bersatu joined forces with Pakatan Harapan (PH) to have a formidable political coalition that could topple the then ruling Barisan Nasional government.

That eventually turned into reality when PH ousted BN in the 14th general election in 2018.

But Muhyiddin never really believed in the Pakatan Harapan general election manifesto as it was only a sleight-of-hand for Muhyiddin to deceive the voters.

With Muhyiddin egging Mahathir to abandon the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, now I understand why the then Pakatan Harapan Prime Minister said at the time that the PH manifesto was not a bible but only a guide and the series of very un-Pakatan Harapan actions like the arrest of DAP elected representatives for trumped-up connection with Tamil Tiger terrorism in Sri Lanka.

Muhyiddin also said last night he was not vindictive and allowed an UMNO man to replace him as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Muhyiddin said despite having a choice to dissolve the government and call for fresh elections after losing the majority in Parliament, he went against the option of dissolution and, instead, nominated Umno’s Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the next prime minister.

He said one of the reasons was that he did not want the opposition, led by Pakatan Harapan, to come back into power.

May be Muhyiddin should state whether he will continue to support Ismail Sabri as Prime Minister if Bersatu is completely wiped out by UMNO in the Malacca general election on Nov. 20?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri