BOTH DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) have been accused of making a serious mistake by wanting to automatically expel party members, including MPs, if they do not toe their party line.
Lawyer and social activist Charles Hector has described such action as a “foolish undemocratic move” as it does not result in the disqualification of an MP or a by-election.
“Does this means that an MP who wants to remain in DAP must abandon his duty as the people’s representative – for he cannot take the position of the people is his constituency or what he thinks is best but only the position of DAP,” asked Hector in his latest blog.
“DAP’s move will make MPs ‘slaves’ or ‘party yes-man’. Is that what DAP wants? What about freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, etc?
“Is this not a betrayal of the people? Is DAP advocating feudalism or blind obedience to the party leadership – i.e., the chairman, secretary-general, national central committee – and not even majority of the party’s members?”
Last Sunday (Sept 25), DAP almost unanimously agreed to make amendments to their anti-party hopping law in tandem with changes made to the Federal Constitution with only two members disagreed with the motion.
Additionally, the party has successfully passed a motion to amend its constitution so that elected representatives who do not toe the party line on fundamental issues would automatically lose their membership.
Earlier on Sept 18, AMANAH amended its constitution so that any MP, senator or state assemblyman who goes against the party’s decisions would automatically lose their membership.
In Hector’s views, what DAP is proposing now is akin to saying “do not listen to your constituents or do not act according to your own conscience but simply follow the party line”.
“For example, some DAP MPs have taken a position on the abolition of the death penalty but DAP as a party has not taken that position. As such, will all MPs of the party who are for the abolition of the death penalty automatically be expelled from the DAP?” asked Hector.
“Likewise, some DAP MPs have taken a position for the abolition of detention without trial but not the party. As such, will all the MPs who support the abolishment of detention without trial laws like POCA (Prevention of Crime Act 1959) and POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015) and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act be automatically expelled?”
Instead, Hector said expulsion should only be imposed for serious offences such as abuse of power or being convicted for serious crimes as in the case of ex-premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak who has been sentenced to 12-year imprisonment and RM210 mil fine for embezzlement of funds under his care.
“Remember that MPs and state assemblymen are not elected by DAP. A political party merely permits candidates who are then elected by the people during an election,” he explained.
“Of course, when the people vote, the fact that the candidate is from DAP plays a significant role in their vote. That’s why anti-hopping laws are needed to ensure immediate disqualification of errant candidates as MP while giving the people another chance to decide who they want as MP.”
At the end of the day, Hector stressed the need for MPs and state assemblymen to be free to express themselves or to vote according to their conscience, hence the role of the party whip who determine how MPs and state assemblymen must vote should be abolished.
“The use of the whip should be limited to important issues like the passing of budget – but not for each and every act or motion before the Parliament,” he added. – Sept 27, 2022