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Defections and dengue

FROM 26 Jan to 1 Feb 2009, besides ushering in the Year of the Ox, the Chinese press highlighted speculation that MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek would cross over to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR); reactions towards defecting politicians in Perak; and squabbles over managing the dengue outbreak.

Another defection?

On 29 Jan, China Press published an exclusive report titled Chua Soi Lek: Defecting? I’m not sure, “I go with the trend”. It speculated that MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek would leave the MCA to join Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) before June this year.

News of Chua’s potential defection was disclosed on the Bagan MCA blog on 29 Jan. An anonymous visitor to the blog left a comment claiming Chua’s defection.

Although the comment did not make known Chua’s reasons for leaving the MCA, party members began to pay attention and discuss the authenticity of the claim after Chua was said to have been ostracised by MCA leaders and ministers.

When asked, Bagan MCA chairperson Loo Khay Thye said the rumour was baseless and untrue, while Chua said he was unaware of it. “Let them (bloggers) make a buzz out of it,” Chua said.

However, he was reluctant to say if he was interested in crossing over. “I am not a very smart person, I go with the trend. If I were to do so, there would be a lot of commotion. I would let you (reporters) know.”

PKR publicity chief Tian Chua said he was also unaware of the rumour. He admitted that PKR has approached some MCA leaders to cross over, but declined to reveal more information as these were simply initial efforts. “Even so, I am not in charge of dealing with [Chua],” Tian said.

Anti-defection laws

With the 25 Jan defection of Umno’s Bota state assemblyperson Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim to PKR, Guang Ming Daily suggested in its 30 Jan editorial that Parliament should introduce an anti-hopping law.

Since Nasaruddin’s defection, rumours have been rife that there would be other defections in Perak, not just from the Barisan Nasional to the Pakatan Rakyat, but vice-versa.

The Guang Ming Daily editorial noted: “Even though only one Umno elected representative has jumped ship, the issue is no longer a matter of one state assembly seat. We can examine the issue from a higher perspective: whether crossovers are reasonable and ethical.

“People’s reps are elected by the people to represent them politically. Therefore, public will should be the basis for the actions of these elected reps,” the article asserted.

Although voters might consider the quality of a candidate and other issues during elections, many Malaysians often choose political parties over candidates. This means the chances of a candidate being elected is closely related to the party he or she represents. If an elected rep were to cross over to the other side, it may be considered an act that violates the public’s choice, the daily argued.

It noted that Malaysia has never had any anti-hopping law, hence allowing defections to happen time and again. The paper argued that uncontrolled defections are not only undemocratic, they could cause political instability.

“Although the state of crossovers is not so bad in Malaysia, Parliament should introduce anti-hopping laws to prevent defections from happening, so that true democracy can be practised,” the editorial concluded.

Fighting dengue

(© enimal /
The severity of the dengue outbreak resulted in bickering among politicians from both the government and the opposition. There wasn’t just the row between Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai and DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang; former health minister Chua also criticised the ministry’s low-profile way of handling the outbreak, saying it was a mistake from the beginning.

Kwong Wah Yit Poh‘s editorial on 31 Jan titled Act fast and firm in dengue fight condemned the act of pointing fingers and urged all factions to focus on how to control the worsening outbreak.

“When dengue is becoming more severe by the day, it doesn’t help to pick on each other. The relevant authorities should focus on strategising on how to exterminate mosquitoes, alert the public, and prevent an outbreak. The authorities should also work closely with the private sector and the public to achieve the desired results,” the article said.

The editorial further suggested three actions that could be taken by the authorities to fight dengue more effectively: “First, declaring how severe the outbreak is alerts the public. Second, intensifying spot checks and fining people to serve as a warning to the public to keep premises clean. And lastly, organising periodical clean-ups with local communities in hotspot areas to increase public awareness about fighting dengue.”

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