Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 20.9.2018

Those Members of Parliament who have resigned from the coalition under which they stood during the GE14 have an ethical obligation to vacate their seats because they were elected based on their coalition affiliation. They forfeit their seats either when they leave the party/coalition, switch parties or are expelled before they finish their term.

Once these MPs leave their party/coalition, the Elections Commission should inform parliament of their change of status and the MPs concerned should be obliged to vacate their seats. MPs switching parties after they have been elected under a particular party alignment undermines multi-party democracy. The contempt and vilification of the three Pakatan representatives in Perak who defected to BN in 2009 was soon forgotten when Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim attempted his “September 16th Caper” after the 2008 general elections.

It had to be the fiercely independent and principled Karpal Singh who stood out to condemn this anti-crossover principle when his own coalition leaders tried to execute similar crossovers. His vociferous castigation of Anwar Ibrahim for attempting to effect crossovers of BN MPs to Pakatan after the 2008 general elections and the compliance of his own party’s leaders, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng can still be seen on Youtube:

“Anwar Ibrahim harus bertaubat…Even the DAP followed the rhetoric of AI in supporting crossovers. I regret that I have not been able to get the support from my own party leaders, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng. It’s a shame – they should also bertaubat…”

Although Karpal Singh is no longer with us, let us hope that his stirring condemnation of unethical crossovers of MPs will be remembered. PH leaders should honour the memory of the late Karpal Singh by reaffirming the principle he held so fervently and demand that all these MPs who have left their party/coalition vacate their parliamentary seats forthwith.

PH Members of parliament should make it their priority to legislate an anti-defection law at the next parliamentary seating. They may know that in India, for example, their Anti-Defection Act was included in the Constitution of 1985 and sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party. Furthermore, some states in the United States even permit the recall of state officials, a democratic principle that goes back to Athenian democracy and the Paris Commune.

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