KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — An influential electoral reform watchdog today slammed Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh for his sudden resignation, equating his decision to the controversial move by former Jelapang assemblyman Hee Yit Fong in the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis.
The Bersih 2.0 steering committee said Lee’s decision to quit was nothing short of a “betrayal of trust”, and was unacceptable as it cast aside public interest for the benefit of his party.
“There is little difference between the actions of Lee and the actions of former DAP Assemblyperson Hee Yit Foong in the 2009 Perak Constitutional Crisis. Both actions are equally deplorable,” the committee said in a statement.
Hee was blamed for playing a key role in the 2009 crisis in Perak, which saw Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lose the state to rival coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) following a spate of defections.
Earlier today, PKR de-facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that he was contesting the Kajang state seat, barely a day after Lee dropped his bombshell.
News of Lee’s resignation came hot on the heels of media speculation that a state by-election was in the offing to make way for Anwar to be part of the state legislative assembly, paving the way for the former deputy prime minister to take over as mentri besar from Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
PKR leaders have denied allegations of a ploy to make Anwar the new mentri besar, though party Deputy President Azmin Ali revealed that Anwar was aware of Lee’s decision beforehand.
The Bersih 2.0 steering committee today said it was disappointed that PKR had no qualms being part of this latest controversy, despite having been a victim of the 2009 Perak fiasco.
“BERSIH 2.0 is appalled that a by-election would have to be called and public funds would be unnecessarily wasted because of the whims and fancies of a few.
“No amount of political spinning will hide the fact that on January 27, 2014, the interest of the Kajang people took a backseat.
“This is a regressive step for democracy because it supports the mistaken notion in Malaysia that elections are about political parties and politicians rather than about the people,” the committee added.
The committee — comprising Maria Chin Abdullah, Dr Farouk Musa, Masjaliza Hamzah, New Sin Yew and Farhana Halim — stressed that it is not for politicians and their parties to manipulate the trust given to them by their electorate.
“The mandate given to an elected representative by the people is something that should not be taken for granted.
“It is disappointing that in the midst of this political merry-go-round, the people’s interest, like many times before, is forgotten,” they said.