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PETALING JAYA, Dec 8 — Despite initially denouncing party defectors, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has seemingly softened his stance towards “political frogs”, now saying that it is their democratic right to do so.
“We are a democratic government, we believe in democracy, and democracy allows frogs to jump,” a rather impish Dr Mahathir said, when asked when Pakatan Harapan (PH) would propose a law to prevent politicians who switch camps.
In October, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) led by Dr Mahathir, stirred controversy by seeking to accommodate Umno defectors, a move largely seen as a strategy to shore up its political support.
This was after PPBM Supreme Council member Datuk A. Kadir Jasin claimed that there is a possibility of up to 40 Umno MPs jumping ship to the party.
The former journalist said the MPs have been meeting Dr Mahathir, who is the party chairman, and president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to discuss the matter, but have not decided yet.
Perak DAP vice-chairman Prof Abdul Aziz Bari, however, had urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the 40 possible defectors to avoid any suspicion of graft.
He said while it was not illegal to defect, it was immoral.
Cases of Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers defecting to PH after the embarrassing downfall of BN have been rife.
After the 14th general election, Sabah saw the defection of five BN members to Parti Warisan Sabah, giving its president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal the majority to form the state government.
Days earlier, Sabah BN chief Tan Sri Musa Aman had claimed majority, and had already been sworn in as the state’s chief minister.
On October 26, Jeli MP Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed joined PPBM.
Mustapa, who was also Kelantan BN chairman, quit Umno on September 18 after being a member for 40 years.
Last month, the two remaining independent assemblymen in Johor also joined PPBM, bringing the total state seats held by PH in the state to 39.
The two assemblymen were former Umno representatives for Sedili, Rasman Ithnain, and Johor Lama, Rosleli Jahari.
Guar Chempedak assemblyman Datuk Ku Abdul Rahman Ku Ismail, who previously announced he was leaving Umno to become an Independent representative, has joined PPBM, Bernama reported yesterday.