Is it now ok to party hop, Dr M?

What actually swirls in the mind of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the moment is anyone’s guess.

Mahathir, it is often said, is a political tactician who has mastered the art of outfoxing his opponents.

By practising the art of cutting down even the most ardent of his loyalists without a single drop of “blood”, Mahathir shows exactly what makes for a shrewd politician.

In his latest stance on party hopping, he has subtly invited MPs from every corner of the country to jump on his bandwagon, by declaring that party hopping is acceptable as long as the party hopper dumps “a government that is really bad and the MPs don’t want to be a part of it”.

This is a weak and flimsy excuse to justify party hopping.

If the MPs believe they could end up being part of a “bad government” why did they offer themselves as election candidates in the first place? They had every opportunity to decline. But no.

They were not convinced they would be in a “bad government”. The lure and lust for power made sure of that. In fact, they were only too happy to sing the praises of the “bad government” they might have joined and praised their leader sky high, the man they chose to lead them into battle. Such are the standards of “the honourable”.

There was an occasion when Shahrir Abdul Samad of Umno resigned as the elected representative for Johor Baru to force a by-election. He was returned handsomely as an independent MP.

Those who remember will also recall how the prime minister at that time pushed through a law that would forbid a reigning MP to follow in the footsteps of Shahrir. Any sitting MP would then be barred from participating in a general election for the next five years.

The prime minister at that time was Mahathir.

Was the BN government at that time a “bad government”? You can draw your own conclusions.

Perhaps what is most surprising about Mahathir’s current stand on party hopping is the fact that he comes from an era where principles, integrity, moral values and credibility meant something to that generation, if not everything.

When such values are ingrained in you, and you live by this ethical philosophy, it is simply incomprehensible how you are prepared to compromise on these values for what you see is the ultimate prize.

But for every action, there is a reaction. You may win the ultimate prize and bask in that glory for now. But when the day is done and you look back at how you compromised your values and principles that were handed down from generation to generation, you have only one unanswered question left to answer.

Was it worth it?

Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.