A law to prevent defections

I rise under Standing Order 49(2) to move a motion to seek leave of the House to introduce a Private Member’s Bill intituled Members of Parliament (Prevention of Defection) Act, 1978 which would require a election to be held on his resignation or expulsion from the party on whose ticket he was originally elected.

In November last year, I was invited by a Tamil national daily, Tamil Nesan to answer questions submitted by Tamil Nesan readers. One question that was asked was about the detection of Opposition Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen after their election in betrayal of the confidence and trust placed on them by the electorate.

I was asked what effective measure could be taken to prevent such opportunistic political betrayal of the people’s confidence. I replied that the most effective way would be for the enactment of a law requiring a Member of Parliament to vacate his seat and cause a by-election to be held on his resignation or expulsion from the party on whose ticket he was originally elected. I promised to move a private members bill on this matter considering it’s importance.

Such a bill is important so as to ensure the political integrity of elected MP’s and to prevent political corruption.

Nothing disgusts the Malaysian public more than to see MP’s or state assemblymen elected on one party’s ticket and then betray the party and the people’s trust by switching parties. This makes them very little different from con-men. Such practiced debase politics and strengthen the general impression that ‘politics is dirty’, when it is the dirty people who get into politics to make politics dirty.

The defection of MP’s or State Assemblymen from parties on whose ticket they got elected is most undesirable and unethical because they are elected not because of their personal qualities, but because of the Party they represent. Such practices also permit elected politicians to be bought and sold as if they are on the market place.

If an elected Mp resigns or is expelled from the Party on whose ticket he was originally elected, then he should resign his seat and cause a by-election to be held. If the resignation and expulsion is over a matter of political principle which has the support of the people, then the MP or State Assemblymen concerned should have no qualms about getting re-elected.

We all know that Barisan Nasional parties require it’s candidates to sign undated letters of resignations to keep their elected MP’s or State Assemblymen in line. Just before the Kelantan state general elections last month, the Kelantan UMNO State Liaison Chaiman, Tengku Razaleigh felt it necessary to declare publicly that UMNO Kelantan has taken steps to prevent UMNO candidates from betraying the party after they are elected. He said every UMNO candidate is required to sign undated letters of resignation to be kept in custody by UMNO, which it would use in the event of betrayal.

Of course, under circumstances the Government party can keep it’s MP’s in control through it’s wide paraphernalia of patronage, influence and largesse. This, however tantamount to another form of political corruption.

A law which I am proposing will uphold political integrity of MP’s and be a serious deterrent to political corruption. Those who wish to see a cleaner political atmosphere should give it support.

(Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, on the Motion on the Royal Address on March 21, 1978)