Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Immoral to party-hop even if it is lega

'Immoral to party-hop even if it is legal' PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 September 2008 08:47am

©New Straits Times (Used by permission)
by Ridzwan Abdullah and R. Sittamparam

KUALA LUMPUR: Legally acceptable but morally unsound.

This was the feeling of non-governmental organisations and bloggers on elected representatives abandoning their parties and joining new ones.

Some, like blogger Haris Ibrahim, felt that an MP or state assemblyman who changed parties should go back to his constituency for a fresh mandate.

In other words, to get re-elected on another party ticket.

"Anything short of that would be a moral fraud perpetrated on the voters," he said.

But since the constitution was amended in 1990 to forbid an MP who resigns from running for office for five years, Haris said, crossing over was the only option for an elected representative who has a partisan change of heart.

"If indeed there are BN-elected representatives contemplating a crossover to Pakatan Rakyat, they should, in my view, refer to the voters in their constituency and get their consent before doing so."

Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said court rulings have favoured MPs who crossed over as it falls under the right of freedom of association.

This was underlined in two cases of party crossovers in the early 1990s where the court upheld the right of elected representatives to switch parties.

The first case was the "Dewan Undangan Negeri Kelantan & Anor v Nordin Salleh & Anor in 1992" where the Federal Court struck down provisions of the constitution of Kelantan that sought to prevent crossovers.

This was since the state's constitution had breached the fundamental right to freedom of association enshrined in Article 10 (1) (c) of the Federal Constitution.

Nordin Salleh and others were elected to the Kelantan state assembly in the 1990 general election on a Pas ticket but they quit the party to join Barisan Nasional.

Ambiga said the Federal Court upheld the constitutional right of the plaintiffs to "cross over" to BN.

The second instance was in 1994 when Parti Bersatu Sabah state assemblymen crossed over to BN to enable it to seize control of the state government.

The statements by these civic groups was in response to criticism from Umno Youth secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan who said they were "silent" over Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Sept 16 plan to seize power through crossovers of BN MPs. co-founder Sean Ang also admitted to being uncomfortable over Anwar's crossover plans.

"We, just like the people, are in a dilemma over the country's uncertain political situation and are faced with having to make a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea."

Ang echoed the belief that BN MPs who crossed over to Pakatan Rakyat should get a new mandate from the people who elected them.

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