The Prime Minister’s statement yesterday at the Lawasia conference that party-hopping is fine as long as it’s done for good reasons is regrettable and encourages a morally despicable act which should not be condoned.
No doubt, there have been several court rulings declaring that party-hopping is not illegal as politicians have a constitutional freedom to associate with any party they wish but it must be always remembered that all elected representatives are elected by the people, mostly on account of the party they stand for and not as individuals.
If an elected representative becomes disillusioned with his/her party’s stand to the point that he/she no longer wishes to be a part of that party, the morally right thing to do is to resign and explain his/her position to the people in a by-election.
Ultimately, it is for the people to decide if that particular representative deserves to be re-elected.
There have been numerous instances of party hopping soon after GE14. Such instances could not have been due to those representatives suddenly becoming disgruntled with their parties as they had no qualms supporting and promoting the same parties just before GE14.
The reality of the position is that party-hopping in this country occurs due to political expediency and has nothing to do with these party-hoppers’ disillusionment with the direction of their former parties.
Instead of encouraging party-hopping, the government should have the political will to introduce the necessary amendments to the Constitution to outlaw the same and introduce specific anti-defection legislation as a result.
Although some states have introduced anti-hopping laws such as Penang in 2012, such state law would be subject to the Federal Constitution and unconstitutional.
Party-hopping is as unprincipled as it can get and every effort should be taken to discourage such a practice in the name of good governance.