AN OPEN LETTER TO YAB TUN DR. MAHATHIR

on Wednesday, June 13

The culture of jumping ship, anti-jump law

Assalamualaikum wbt. Ramadhan Greetings to YAB Tun and family. May Allah bless YAB Tun with good health, abundance and long life.

First of all, permit me to congratulate YAB Tun on your recent success in claiming the leadership of the country and putting back our beloved country on a good track to recovery from many past ills. In the past, I had the privileges of writing to YAB Tun after you retired from active politics.I am honoured then that I got replies in a reasonably short time. The letters can read in my book here and here

Based on my humble and little observation, it is obvious that the era when YAB Tun first led our beloved country between 1981 and 2002 is a lot different from now with so many changes that have since taken places. As such, I concur that there are many changes that need to be carried out in order for our beloved country to be able to move forward in the new era of the 4th Industrial Revolution and beyond.

And in politics, I also concur with the direction that YAB Tun wishes to take our beloved country in moving forward and creating a new, vibrant culture of work and politics. Hence, I agree with YAB Tun's earlier speech to not accept elected representatives who wish to jump ship. This demeans the people’s mandate and furthermore it would also dishearten staunch supporters of PH and its various component parties. The latter had worked hard through thick and thin, and it would certainly disappoint them to be later eclipsed by the exodus of “ship jumpers” from former rival political parties.

Nevertheless, I understand the need of the PH led by YAB Tun to have good support as many things that need to be done require the support of a two-third majority in parliament. That rival political parties have disengaged themselves from their parent party, BN and declare support for PH is a pact that would help accomplish the needed parliamentary support for changes or reforms that PH had pledged to carry out.

However, in order to bring integrity to the electoral and democratic processes, it might be necessary to introduce anti-jump law. This is because we still have high number of politicians who have not yet acquire that level of integrity and are quick to shift allegiance for narrow, self-interest.

In matured democracy, this ship-jumping antic does not happen, although horse-trading may also be seen as it’s more subtle form. In the US, for example, the rotation of governance between democrats and republicans are common and elected representatives there do not jump ship because the president or governors who won state governments come from opposing political party.

In democracy, both members of the ruling party and the opposition have important roles to play in upholding democracy and providing a check-and-balance so that the process of governance benefits the people. We see how this works in many countries such as in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan but not so in our beloved country, Malaysia. Before 2008, the argument has been that the number of opposition is small and hence a shadow cabinet cannot be formed to check on the ruling party. But since 2008, there is a huge number of opposition members and still the country do not have a shadow cabinet that can check the ruling party. Hopefully, now that BN is on the opposing side, they can form the shadow cabinet in order to provide the need check so that PH would be working hard for the good of the country and its people.

In my humble opinion, the culture of jumping ship destroys the very fundamental of democracy because it betrays the trust placed by electorates in their elected representatives. If elected representatives want to jump ship, they should either vacate the seat or seek the support of those whom have voted for them. That would be the only honorable thing to do for all parties concerned, either for the receiving party or the party that is about to be abandoned as well as the people who had voted for their elected representatives.

It is very honorable for Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng, for examples whom have remained loyal to their principles and stay on with DAP come what may. Undoubtedly, both father and son team had gone through many rough times and spots but they remained steadfast because they were convinced of their party's struggle for the people. This is the spirit to be learned and should pervade in politics. People will then be confident of their politicians and leaders.

Furthermore, the culture of jumping ship or frogging as is commonly referred to in Malaysia is predominantly in some states especially in Sabah and this unhealthy political culture has over the years spread to states such as Perak and Kedah. In events of ship jumping or frogging back and forth, time is wasted, people lose confident in the political process and leaders and the whole episode undermine stability and the democracy.

Thank you very much.

KLIA.
Jun 13, 2018.





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