PETALING JAYA: The rate of political crossovers is set to pick up speed in several states as the 14th general election (GE14) draws near.
Since GE13, 12 MPs and more than 20 state assemblymen have either switched parties or become independents.
Analysts predict that more politicians will switch allegiance in the hope of being in the right party to contest seats of their choice.
“With GE14 drawing closer, many will want to switch and the situation may be rampant in some states,” said Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malay-sia.
The political sociology professor said Sabah, Terengganu, Selangor and Kedah were among the most likely states where crossovers may happen in the run-up to GE14. Sabah alone has seen several cases in the past few weeks.
Crossovers are also a possibility in Terengganu where Barisan Nasio-nal has a slim two-seat majority.
“Kedah may spring a surprise if it turns out that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia really has a strong following.
“If such is the case, we could see politicians from Umno crossing over,” said Sivamurugan, although he added that there were no such signs so far.
Selangor, where PAS has cut ties with Pakatan Harapan but remains part of the state government, could also see party-hopping following the re-entry of former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib into Umno after he quit the party in 2013 to join PAS and later, PKR.
Incidentally, PAS has been the hardest-hit by party-hopping since GE13, with six of its MPs and seven state assemblymen quitting the party to join the splinter Amanah.
Asked about the benefits of an anti-hopping law, Sivamurugan said there were pros and cons.
“The good thing about an anti-hopping law is that it will promote a stable government, especially if the government only has a slim majority,” he said.
“The bad thing about it is that a disgruntled lawmaker will not be able to leave his party easily.”
ANTI HOPPING LAW
Penang is the only state with an anti-hopping law passed by the State Legislative Assembly in 2012 and enforced since Feb 15 the following year.
In Sabah, at least three high-profile crossovers were seen in recent weeks in Barisan Nasional’s Parti Bersatu Sabah and the Opposition’s DAP, triggering a watch on political re-alignment among party members.
Political analyst Rahezzal Shah Abdul Karim, who is a lecturer at the Administrative Science and Policy Studies Faculty of UiTM Sabah, said switching allegiances was the norm each time elections approached.
He said the high-profile exits of former PBS secretary-general Datuk Henrynus Amin and Youth chief Datuk Jake Nointin were mainly moves to position themselves for the elections.
He said a leadership transition is under way in PBS with Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili taking the reins from founding president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan in January.
Henrynus has taken over Parti Anak Negeri, while Nointin is widely speculated to have quit because it was unlikely he would be fielded in a state seat in Keningau.
The decision by these two better-known leaders in PBS stemmed more from internal factors rather than external ones, Rahezzal said.
Pairin, who led the party he founded since 1984, said he would be retiring and will not defend his Keningau parliamentary and Tambunan state seats.
Pairin’s retirement has resulted in a lot of political jockeying to fill the vacuum in the interior.
Rahezzal said the two leaders know that their chances for candidacy were low within PBS, and Henrynus himself did not see eye-to-eye with Dr Ongkili.
Sabah DAP also lost its first Kapayan assemblyman, Dr Edwin Bosi, who left the party last month and is likely to join another state-based opposition party, which many speculate would be Parti Anak Sabah .
“You will see more movements on both sides of the political divide in the coming months,” Rahezzal said.