PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today urged Sabah voters to reject the 13 assemblymen who defected from the Warisan-led administration last week, forcing a snap election in the state.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Malaysia Trailblazers Foundation, he claimed that they had no valid excuse for defecting to the coalition led by former chief minister Musa Aman.
Mahathir said he could understand if the assemblymen had switched camps due to disagreements over party policies. However, he said party-hopping for other reasons was unacceptable.
“This is not healthy for Sabah or Malaysian politics. I hope the people who left their parties will be rejected by Sabah voters,” he said.
A number of assemblymen aligned with the Warisan-led government previously claimed that they had received monetary offers to cross over.
However, on Friday, Sabah Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief S Karunanithy said none was willing to lodge an official report as no transactions had taken place.
Shafie Apdal, who is caretaker chief minister, dissolved the state assembly last week with the consent of the Sabah governor following the defection of at least 13 assemblymen to Musa’s camp.
An election must be called within 60 days of the dissolution.
Musa said the new coalition he would lead included elected representatives from Sabah Umno, PPBM, STAR, PBS, PKR, DAP, Warisan and Upko.
Acknowledging that he had been involved in party-hopping himself when he left Umno to form PPBM in 2016, Mahathir said he did so as he felt the party’s leadership had strayed from its original direction.
“As you know, when I found the leadership of Umno was bad, I resigned, moved out and later on I formed another party. That is because I didn’t agree with what was being done,” he said.
“On the other hand, party-hopping is also used by some people to undermine the government, to change the government. This is what happened when PPBM decided to leave Pakatan Harapan (PH), which meant PH collapsed. And then PPBM formed another coalition with Umno and PAS.
“That kind of party-hopping is bad because you abuse the right of your party to form the government. When you do that in a big way, you actually deny the people their right to choose the government.”