Sleight of hand in PKR resignations?
It has become a norm to blame Barisan Nasional whenever there is a resignation from the opposition party.
After all, when the first three “independents” — Hee Yit Foong, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Osman Jailu — left their parties this time last year, BN profited by bagging Perak.
Although never proven, speculation that the three had benefited financially from their “coming-out” party continues to be bandied about by conspiracy theorists.
For Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong, quitting over funding was silly. “They are not the only ones struggling over allocations for their constituencies. DAP’s federal legislators face similar problems,” said Liew, who is from DAP.
The DAP strategist was less sure about whether BN had a hand in the duo’s resignations.
“While there doesn’t seem to be any direct advantage for BN in this case, more resignations could hand the two-thirds control of parliament back to them,” said Liew.
“With two-thirds majority, BN can then amend the Federal Constitution on federal-state relationship and seize more power. They will also have the advantage in a delineation exercise of the parliament seats.”
The latest departures of Bayan Baru and Nibong Tebal members of parliament from PKR are no different. But for Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia associate professor of political science Dr Mohamad Agus Yusoff, the allegations remain unfounded and cannot be relied on.
“Nothing has been proven so far, and there are many different factors causing the resignations of Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim and Tan Tee Beng,” said Agus yesterday.
“They are likely to have left as a result of the dissatisfaction, disillusionment and personality clashes within the party,” he explained.
Umno supreme council member Datuk Idris Haron was equally dismissive about the suggestion that the two had been paid to leave their party.
“Why would we want to do this? If we can offer RM1 million for them to leave their party, who’s to say they won’t repeat it for a higher sum. There is also no advantage to BN for them to cross over as we are the government after all,” said the Tangga Batu MP.
“It is more likely that they left due to anger and frustration with the leadership. It’s not easy to leave a party when the mandate comes from the people,” he added.
Unlike the previous cases in Perak, Zahrain and Tan had openly clashed with Penang Chief Miniser Lim Guan Eng over the issue of funding for their constituencies.
While Penang state assemblymen are given allocations to manage their constituencies, MPs are not provided with any funding to run theirs.
Following a very public spat with Lim, PKR instituted disciplinary proceedings against the two. While Tan had initially apologised for his actions before quitting on Monday, Zahrain had resigned before facing the disciplinary board.
Another MP, Zulkifli Nordin (Kulim Bandar Baharu) similarly faced the disciplinary board on Monday.
Another reason suggested by Idris for Tan and Zahrain’s resignations relates to their leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“Maybe, they have become disenchanted with Anwar after the latter failed to become the prime minister in 2008. Anwar’s pre-occupation with the sodomy trial could have further distanced him from their problems,” said Idris.
Liew said that it was a case of “damn if you do and damn if you don’t” for PKR.
“It was a no-win situation for PKR. If the party had conducted a surgical strike on the duo by sacking them, Anwar would have been accused of being a dictator. But by not sacking them, the party has to brace for all these problems,” said Liew.
For Agus, the resignations only proved that it is high time that an anti-hopping law was instituted. Or at the very least, an amendment to Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution.
“Under the current laws, a disgruntled legislator can quit only the party while maintaining his seat. But by amending the law or having an anti-hopping legislation, the choice is returned to the voters.
“Allowing the unhappy MP to quit and re-contest is only fair to the voters and the party,” said Agus.