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Defections unethical, says Khairy

KUALA LUMPUR, 3 Feb 2009: Umno Youth chief aspirant Khairy Jamaluddin said he is opposed to party-hopping because it is unethical, but he will not support anti-hopping legislation.

“I personally have written and spoken about party-hopping being unethical, and I would hold that line.

“But when there’s no legislation preventing it from happening, you can say it’s unethical but you can’t stop it from happening,” he told The Nut Graph in an interview at his office yesterday.

He said even though it was unethical, it would be hard for the Barisan Nasional (BN) to “resist the temptation” of toppling a government by encouraging defections, especially since “we didn’t start it”.

On 25 Jan, the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak claimed victory when Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim, the Umno assemblyperson for Bota, joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

Subsequently, speculation has been rife that PKR state assemblyperson for Behrang Jamaluddin Mat Radzi and Changkat Jering assemblyperson Mohd Osman Jailu would be hopping over to Umno.

Prime Minister and BN chairperson Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has since come out to say the BN would accept any Pakatan Rakyat-elected representatives who wanted to join the BN.

If the two assemblypersons, who have been charged with corruption, do defect to Umno, the move would reduce the Pakatan Rakyat government’s majority in Perak to a wafer-thin 30:29.

Taint of scandal

Asked to comment on Umno’s apparent welcoming of Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman into its fold when both were facing corruption charges and the party was on an anti-corruption drive, Khairy said, “First of all, these two are innocent until proven guilty. But obviously they have the taint of scandal above them.

“I would be extremely disappointed if they jumped over and the charges were dropped against them. To me, that would not only be unethical because of the party-hopping bit. That would be extremely unethical because you’re basically saying if you want to get out of [a] charge for a crime, then join Umno.

“And I think that’s what a lot of people will think. You want a free pass out of prison or a free pass out of a courtroom, then join Umno. So I certainly do hope that if they do decide to jump for whatever reason, they’re doing it for reasons which are unrelated to the corruption charge.”

Freedom of association

Khairy, who is the current Umno Youth deputy chief, however, stressed that he would not support any proposal for anti-hopping legislation.

Describing his position as being a “grey area” that only a “small minority” subscribed to, he said his view is a bit unique “because I don’t support party-hopping, unless, of course, that person has been sacked from the party.

“But I also don’t support anti-hopping laws, simply because to me, it’s unconstitutional. It’s against the right of association.”

Khairy, who is also the Member of Parliament for Rembau, said he is opposed to defections because a candidate is not just voted in for who he or she is, but also because of party affiliation.

“When you’re voted in, you are also just like anybody else. You are free to associate, and if you believe that your voters’ interests are served better in another platform, then you may decide to go. But the manner in which you go shouldn’t be in hopping,” Khairy said.

“I’ll give you an example. If the government collapses today, and there’s a national unity government, and you are asked to serve… in that case, yes, you are not hopping.”

Khairy also cited the example of being an independent candidate as one way to continue serving one’s constituency without still belonging in one’s party.

Political reality

To a question, Khairy said the BN did miss an opportunity to be principally opposed to party-hopping.

“But faced with the stark political reality of appearing principled, or actually trying to topple a state government, I think many people in the party would say, ‘Go for the second option, especially when we didn’t start it.’ I think it’s very difficult to resist that temptation.

“For a lot of people within the BN, you can’t sit still idly and watch this happen. I mean, tit for tat. I, personally, of course, don’t hold to that view, especially if it includes inducements or things that entice them to come over,” he said,

Khairy added that neither the BN nor the Pakatan Rakyat could claim the “moral high ground” on party-hopping since both were involved in encouraging defections to their side.

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11 Responses to “Defections unethical, says Khairy”

  1. Khobu says:

    Who started the PBS defection?

  2. Singam says:

    Who started the frog hopping?

    Frog hopping to topple a legitimately elected government is something the BN is expert on. Ask Joseph Parin Kitingan. He also learned the hard way that pre-signed letters of resignation are acceptable when held by a BN ally.

    Today, the ball is in the other court. By pushing through legislation preventing a resigning member from re-contesting a seat, the BN has prevented any possibility of going back to the rakyat. So frogging may be the only available option for demonstrating lack of faith in BN policies.

    The danger of strong-arm politics is that one day one will face a stronger arm. Now, finally, the rakyat have woken up sufficiently to assert their political will. The Barisan Rakyat will back all efforts by the Pakatan Rakyat to dismantle the BN hegemony.

    After that, we will be poised to choose between two almost equal political alliances that need to woo their electorate. We will then begin our march towards a real democracy.

  3. KJ says:

    If you say it is unethical then you should support any proposal for anti-hopping legislation. In fact, it is the BN that started this hopping thing during Dr Mahathir’s time when he enticed Sabah politicians to jump over to the BN.

  4. Khairy the neo-liberal? Gimme a break.

    Previously Zaid Ibrahim said that until our democracy matures, it is better not to hop parties, but judging from his latest statements he has changed his stance.

    Besides technical and natural justice issues (link below) they are called wakil rakyat and not wakil parti, the ultimate decision is in the hand of the constituents. Those within BN love to call Anwar king of the frogs, etc. but conveniently keep silent that BN is the reason we are in this predicament because of the amendment to clause 48(6) of the constitution that they made in 1990.

    So before anyone talks about an anti hop law, which some in DAP like Karpal are likely to support (they only need another 8 opposition lawmakers to push an anti-hop law through) please ensure clause 48(6) is repealed first.

    Anti-hop law and Clause 48(6) incompatible
    Vijay Kumar Murugavell | Oct 6, 08 5:43pm

  5. E says:

    KJ, for sure, everyone sensible is questioning the defections. How about you comment about things closer to home? How can it be that the PM, your father-in-law, approved ECM Libra’s privatisation of government-owned Avenue Cap for no cash? Do you have any comments about the Rembau-located Labu airport?

  6. pvs says:

    Mahathir hates this guy’s guts and looks for his downfall.

  7. Lainie says:

    “They started it” being, of course, the utmost maturity one can inject into any debate.

  8. dr ahmad says:

    KJ, which is more unethical? An elected representative hopping to another party or an “unethically” conducted general/by-election?

  9. Pakmus says:


    You don’t remember when 11 goons defected to BN in Sabah and the PBS government under Pairin Kittingan fell to the ground. Pairin was slapped with corruption charges and when Pairin joined BN, the corruption charges were dropped. This is the government under BN.

  10. My responses to some of the comments made.

    1) Yes, the defections in Sabah in 1994 were unethical as is Adun Bota’s decision to join PKR. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    2) The Sabah defections were orchestrated by none other than the then Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Chairperson of Barisan Nasional, one Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Clearly he has good practice at this lompat business.

    3) I have no problems answering questions about ECM Libra and I have done so extensively on my website. I would like to straighten out some facts – ECM Libra and Avenue merged. It wasn’t a privatization. And it wasn’t PM that approved the merger because Avenue was a public listed company. The merger had to be approved by the shareholders – not just MoF but local and foreign institutional shareholders. During the AGM the merger was approved by 98% of shareholders present.

    4) Err … Labu is in the parliamentary constituency of Rasah represented by Anthony Loke of DAP, not Rembau. I’m really not sure what more I can do to point out that this “E” commentator has some way to go before asking tough questions based on facts.


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