KUALA LUMPUR: A former Umno MP who recently defected to Pakatan Harapan today dismissed taunts by a former colleague as mere political statements.
Ronald Kiandee (PH-Beluran) was referring to criticisms by Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday against former party members who became part of PPBM recently.
Kiandee, in his debate on the royal address, reminded Bung on Sabah’s history, where in 1994 it had embraced those who hopped over from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to Umno, until the Barisan Nasional government was formed.
The former deputy speaker cited how back then, two Sabah assemblymen, who had hopped from PBS to Umno, had contested under the Umno ticket many times. They had won repeatedly, until the 14th general election last year.
“So when he said we are people without dignity, I feel that it is a political statement. Umno itself has embraced those who hopped parties, from 1994 to 2018.
“You said we will be wiped out — that is also a political statement,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Kiandee was one of four lawmakers who became part of PPBM recently. His speech today was in response to Bung’s remarks yesterday, when he described these party-hoppers as frogs and monkeys.
Bung had also asserted the need for an anti-hopping law.
Kiandee said he understood Bung’s feelings as Sabah had the highest number of defections, which nearly paralysed the state liaison committee.
He noted that things would have been different if he alone had crossed over, as it could be seen to be due to personal reasons.
“But if we crossed over in large numbers — the Kudat MP here says ‘hijrah berjemaah’ — it goes to show that Umno in Sabah needs to do some soul searching as to what caused so many defections in Sabah,” he said.
In spite of the political statements, Kiandee said Bung remains his friend, even on the golf course.
“There is no loss of friendship. He is still my friend, despite his political statements,” he said.
On Bung’s call for an anti-hopping law to be enacted, in light of the crossovers, Kiandee believed the former had uttered these remarks out of anger.
Kiandee was convinced that the Sabah Umno chairman was aware that an anti-hopping law already exists in both the Sabah and Kelantan state assemblies.
“I know and understand, that Kinabatangan is studying the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Nordin Salleh against the Kelantan state legislative assembly.
“Malaysians have the right to choose. The freedom of association.
“It is a decision that has yet to be challenged. Therefore, Bung saying we need an anti-hopping law is also a political statement to make themselves feel better so that other members will no longer be brave enough to cross over,” he said.
Nordin, together with Wan Mohamed Najib Wan Mohamaed (Limbongan), won their state seats under the then-Semangat 46 ticket in the 1990 general election.
However, both defected to Umno in 1991. The Kelantan state assembly amended the state constitution and passed an anti-hopping law that took retrospective effect from Nov 18, 1990.
The speaker declared the seats vacant and both men contested again in by-elections but lost.
The duo then sought legal remedy and the Supreme Court in 1992 held that the amendment to the state constitution was designed to enforce party discipline, not impose restrictions on state assemblymen.
The court said the amendment breached Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of association.
Kiandee also reminded Bung of the crossovers which occurred in Perak 14 years ago, which saw the Pakatan Rakyat government fall to BN.
“So, there is nothing disgusting and undignified about his statements. I just consider them political statements.
“Around me here, there are still many empty seats. I am confident, if given the chance, many more will occupy these seats,” he said.
At this juncture, Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) stood up and said that Umno already has plans to sue those who defected, stating that Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa could confirm this.
“So, get ready to receive your letters,” he said.