Vocal party critic to abide by DAP’s decision to ax members who don’t toe the line

VOCAL party critic Ronnie Liu said he will follow and abide by DAP’s recent decision to amend its constitution to terminate the membership of elected representatives who do not toe the party line on fundamental issues.

In a statement yesterday (Sept 30), Liu said there was a need to distinguish constructive principled dissent from destructive criticism, adding that it was only out of his “love for the party” and the causes of its struggle that he dissented to the amendments.

The Sungai Pelek assemblyman noted that organisations, be it in business, politics or society, have realised the dangers of destructive consent and encouraged, even making it an obligation, to consider constructive dissent. 

“I must make it clear that my (previous) statement was not intended to challenge the validity of the (party’s) decision. I will follow and abide by the amendment. 

“However, it is my hope that my solitary reminder may assist the party to reflect and make the necessary adjustments when the next opportunity arises,” said the party’s central executive committee (CEC) member.

At a special congress on Sunday (Sept 25), DAP approved a motion to amend its constitution to plug a “loophole” that allows an MP to remain in their seat despite not being aligned with the party’s ideals.

(Photo credit: DAP)

The party did this to be in sync with the upcoming anti-hopping law, echoing fellow Pakatan Harapan component party Amanah which similarly amended its constitution last month to reflect the new law.

Following this, Liu warned that DAP “may not be democratic anymore” when the amendments come into effect as vocal leaders like him would be removed from the party from speaking up on various public-interest issues.

In response, DAP secretary-general Loke Siew Fook told Liu to respect and not publicly question the decision as it was collectively decided by the CEC and approved by party representatives.

“Right to dissent, but not once things are settled”

Loke added that while Liu had the right to disagree on the matter and his concerns were raised during the special congress, since the matter was already decided, all members should abide by it – similar to how Cabinet decisions are made.

Liu agreed that once a position has been agreed upon in Cabinet, all ministers are expected to abide by that position and vote with the Government or resign if they refuse to do so.

This to ensure that the public is not aware of the different opinions of the ministers, which can vary at times and prevent the Cabinet from appearing united and strong.

The current Malaysian Cabinet (Photo credit: News Straits Times)

However, he said collective ministerial responsibility is a “flexible” convention as there are various exceptions to its application. 

For instance, during former UK prime minister Theresa May’s stint in power, then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson (who eventually succeeded May) wrote articles and gave newspaper interviews in which he set out positions that were not Cabinet policies. 

On the other hand, former UK leader David Cameron allowed ministers to publicly disagree with the Cabinet’s position in the Brexit referendum.

“A member of the CEC, unlike a cabinet minister who is appointed by the prime minister, is elected by the delegates at the general assembly,” said Liu.

“The CEC member’s responsibility is, therefore, owed primarily to the members of the party.”

While agreeing that defections should incur disqualification, he said there should also be safeguards to ensure healthy debate within the party to curtail “autocratic tendencies of party bosses” or provide “timely reminders” that the leadership may be deviating from the principles of the party’s struggle.

“I sincerely believe that the circumstances relating to the anti-hopping amendments and their effect on the democratic processes in the party are of such importance that it warrants my dissent to be voiced in order to maintain the necessary checks and balances within the party.” – Oct 1, 2022


Main photo credit: Bernama

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