KOTA KINABALU: After more than five decades of turbulent politics, which peaked dan triggered the collapse of the Parti Bersatu Sabah led state govrnment – a winning party in the 1994 state elections, the present Sabah government finally took a clear stand last week to combat party hopping once and for all.
There seems to be a new sense that party hopping has become a chronic and endemic condition for stable state government.
And on May 25, the state legislative assembly passed the Constitution of the State of Sabah (Amendment) Bill 2023, which was tabled by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
The anti-party hopping bill, which includes provisions to prevent those elected on the ticket of a political party from switching to another political party after winning a seat, emphasised three main principles, namely upholding the principles of democracy, respecting the people’s rights through the election process and creating government stability.
Could this indicate a turning point in Sabah politics? And could it herald a new era of political stability?
Political Analyst Mohd Ustar Abdul Ghani opined that the anti-hop law will definitely restore political stability and sensibility, allowing democratic principles be respected and practiced.
“Political hopping have caused so much political turmoil and instability to the state.
“The late Payar Juman’s political switch from UPKO to USNO have left a political vaccum for 56 years and party hopping have brought down a legitimately elected government, PBS in 1994 and Warisan in 2020,” he said.
Ustar said money politics could be effectively checked with the proposed law.
” We will no longer be subjected to political uncertainties. It will allow the elected government to govern effectively and most importantly fulfilling the wishes of the electorates through a democratic process,” he said.
In other words, once the Anti-Hop Law takes effect, propagators of Buhangkot or frog culture will not be able to play the “Kelintung” game.
The frog analogy is used to refer to politicians who tend to hop among political parties.
In fact, the phenomenon is so common in Sabah that a former PBS deputy president, Abdul Malek Chua, wrote a book on the subject entitled YB For Sale. “YB” stands for Yang Berhormat (The Honourable), a commonly used term for elected representatives.
For many, the Anti Hop Law is a timely victory for Sabahans, and the joy is better late than never….but a sad day for Buhangkot.