KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 – The reaction from Permatang Pauh MP and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar to the possibility of a great number of lawmakers from Umno leaving the party and eventually joining Pakatan Harapan through a component party does not come as a surprise.
The daughter of PKR’s current and former presidents – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail – took to Twitter to condemn such a likelihood.
She said it would go against the wishes of the people who voted for Pakatan Harapan in the 14th general election (GE14).
“The mass exodus from Umno is a betrayal of the mandate given by the voters on the 9th of May (GE14)…it insults those who are loyal to the cause.
“Our party (PKR) was attacked before by defections. (I) would not want that kind of pain and antics upon anyone else.
“There is no meaning to democracy if Malaysia is governed by elite-based politicking,” she said on Twitter.
Mass resignations in Umno
Her reaction comes amid a total of 10 MPs from Umno – four from Sabah and six from the peninsula – and nine out of the 10 Sabah state assemblymen from Umno, having left the party last week.
They have not announced their intentions on whether they will be joining PH component party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) or PH ally Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan). Hence, the lawmakers remain independent for now.
Dozens of division chiefs in Sabah Umno also left the party but have not revealed their next move too.
This would be in addition to the Umno defections since GE14, with three MPs already joining Bersatu.
Anwar changes tune on party defections
Anwar has since responded to the Umno resignations saying that PKR will not accept any of these lawmakers nor leaders, especially in Sabah.
However, this was different to the events of 2008, just months after the historic 12th general election (GE12) on March 8 that year saw Barisan Nasional lose its two-thirds mandate in the Dewan Rakyat for the first time.
Anwar, who then led the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition comprising PKR, DAP and PAS, had announced that he had secured the support of a large number of BN MPs and was looking at BN component parties joining PR in order to take over Putrajaya.
It was believed that he had spoken to 20-30 BN MPs, whom he said had given their commitment to cross over.
If that was the case then, how would that differ from what is going on now, 10 years later?
Karpal had it right, but is PH willing to do something now?
Bersatu, which if the newest party in the Pakatan Harapan coalition, are likely just strengthening their position, by taking on these ex-Umno MPs in order to boost the 13 parliamentary seats it won in GE14, compared with the 40-plus won by DAP and PKR respectively.
Nurul Izzah might pay heed to the fact that PKR comprises ex-Umno leaders and members, including her father and deputy president Azmin Ali.
A tradition of leaving parties and joining another in Malaysia will continue as long as there is no anti-hopping law as mooted by a former DAP leader.
The late Karpal Singh had proposed such a law in 2010 after three Perak state assemblymen at the time, had quit the then Pakatan Rakyat coalition to help BN take over the state government.
It is left to be seen if DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Karpal’s sons Gobind and Ramkarpal, as well as other senior DAP MPs will take up the gauntlet from their highly-respected and principled former national chairman.