Hop off the moral high horse


EXCEPT for MPs who had outrightly jumped ship, the rest tend to take the moral high ground, some almost sanctimoniously, when pushing for the Anti-Hopping Law to come into effect.

While the uncertainties are over how and what aspects of the law needs to be amended or what new ones need to be introduced, by and large all MPs, including those who jumped, fully supported the move, or at least are not opposed to it.

But for the sanctimonious and moral high grounders, they should note that it would not be surprising if party hoppers were celebrated and revelled before the 2018 general election (GE).

If Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs had abandoned the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, when his mortifying 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal broke out, and joined the Opposition parties, surely, they would have been declared heroes and became instant celebrities.

With the exception of the three who were sacked, the rest chose to stick with Najib, Umno and BN, at least most of them until the GE.

Their refusal to jump ship allowed Najib and his ilk a couple more extra years to inflict further damage to the nation’s coffers, apart from intimidating the Opposition and abusing his power to incarcerate his critics.

Post-2018 polls, some of the Umno MPs who chose to stick to Najib and the party decided to abandon them and joined Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia then helmed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

It bolstered the numbers of Malay MPs in the government side and aimed at pacifying the fractious Malay ground where fear of losing grip on the government was being fanned and fed by the then Malay opposition, Umno and PAS.

Despite the hopping Umno MPs being told that their crossover would not see them secure any rewards in the form of positions in the government or party, at least for two years, Bersatu’s partners in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) were extremely uncomfortable and openly opposed to it.

Imagine, if more of the Umno MPs had chosen to abandon Najib and Umno, and joined any of the component parties in PH without being rewarded, Najib and Umno would not have had the bargaining power to participate in the Sheraton Move nor able to later on do a number on the move’s mastermind Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin.

Actually, the height of disgust towards party hoppers escalated after the Sheraton Move.

Apart from the en bloc hopping performed by Mahiaddin’s Bersatu, PKR’s Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali almost equalled the feat but neither would admit that they had party hopped because it was, en bloc.

Subsequently, individual MPs crossed over while Mahiaddin struggled with his majority.

The disgust is not merely about the party hopping but it was how they were rewarded with positions in the Cabinet and government-linked companies. There were widespread suspicions that some had done so under the threat of being investigated for corruption and abuse of power.

Against this backdrop, it can be surmised that party hopping, would have been somewhat accepted if there is a justifiable cause, other than personal gain or lining the pocket.

One obvious cause would be to bring about the fall of a plundering idiot as soon as possible before he could plunder more.

Apart from that, party hopping without seeking personal gain be it financial or position or to avoid incarceration, could probably be the barometer in measuring intent and not betraying the trust of their constituents who voted for them.

Otherwise, not only those involved in the Sheraton Move should be questioned, others including Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, as well as Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Simpang Renggam MP Dr Maszlee Malik may not have the moral high ground to raise issue over party hopping.

For Anwar, while he may insist that voters had favoured him in the by-election forced on the Port Dickson seat justified his move, it

doesn’t take the fact that the voters had voted the preceding MP for him to serve the full term.

In the case of Syed Saddiq, he contested as a Bersatu candidate, a Malay-based party and yet, after being sacked from Bersatu, he chose to set up Muda, a multi-racial party.

Similarly in the case of Mazlee. He too, in the 2018 polls, was a candidate from Bersatu and yet, after being sacked like Syed Saddiq, Maszlee chose to join PKR, a multiracial entity.

It may be trivial to some but the crux of the matter is that how can Syed Saddiq or Maszlee assume that their voters didn’t mind them being in multi-racial parties when they were voted as candidates from a Malay-based party.

They may have been sacked but the least they could have done was to remain as independents if there are no Malay-based parties to their liking.

But their “sin” is not of grave consequence and if it is, their voters can wait to punish them.

Of bigger concern is the message sent out to the general populace over the royal favour extended to someone that a Malaysian court described as a national embarrassment and labelled by a foreign publication as a plundering idiot.

Others have been “tarred and feathered” so to speak, for stealing a few ringgit from a mosque’s fund but another, who stole billions from public fund is revelled and celebrated.

So, go plunder billions and get royally feted. Steal a pittance, off to the pits.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.