Choo Sing Chye recalls the words of the legendary P Patto on political defections which sound especially prescient today in this age of kataks.
Fifteen years ago, P Patto passed away leaving a void that until today is not filled. Although, a decade and half have passed, the memory of him is still vivid in the minds of those who had the opportunity to be with him in the fight for justice for the people.
Had he not died on 12 July 1995, he would have become the Secretary General of the DAP. But as fate played its role, this was never to be and in the process, the DAP lost one of its most loyal sons and it seems that nobody had stepped into his shoes until today.
To commemorate him, I have randomly selected a file which strangely enough contains a statement written by him on the immoral act of MPs and state assembly members switching parties – a controversial topic at present.
P Patto’s press statement on 3 January 1985:
The dirty and treacherous tactics employed by some to “buy” DAP and other opposition parties’ elected representatives depict the level of political immorality and corruption in the system.
The recent betrayal by Malacca State Assembly member for Kubu, W Y Yong, is a classic example of how low the BN leadership is prepared to stoop in order to score some political points over the DAP.
The people of Malacca had elected Yong thrice in three consecutive general elections on a DAP platform, rejecting decisively the BN in all these three elections. He had pledged, when he stood on the DAP platform, to work for the people of Malacca and that he would not betray them. And yet, he betrayed the cause and the people of Malacca, probably (allegedly) for personal gain.
Betrayals by elected representatives who cross the floor when the carrot is held before their eyes cannot be condoned in any parliamentary system which adheres to the principles of parliamentary democracy. The choice by the electorate in any election or by-election must be held in high esteem and not treated as a licence to trade one’s position as a Member of Parliament or State Assembly member for personal gain and glory.
The electorate vote a certain candidate in an election on account of his or her party platform or personal principles if he or she is not a party candidate. The electorate elect a particular candidate to be their MP or State Assembly member for what their party stands for. But this trust placed by the electorate is totally ignored by some Opposition MPs or State Assembly members when they put themselves up for sale.
Such acts of betrayal by individual elected representative must be brought to an end by way of legislation.
The government must respect the rights of the electorate to elect a certain candidate, and anyone elected by the people must not be allowed to switch parties after the election for any purpose. The best way to put an end to such betrayal of the people’s trust is to introduce legislation whereby an elected representative elected on a particular party platform is barred from crossing the floor unless he or she resigns his seat and seeks a fresh mandate from the electorate by contesting on the new party’s ticket.
Political parties whose elected representatives are either expelled or have resigned from such parties must be made to seek a fresh mandate for the electorate, for the electorate had voted such candidates when they stood on their previous party platform.
Such legislation will be a sure way to arrest political immorality and corruption now prevalent in the political arena.