In Malaysia, one does not need anthropologists to study the group of people we call politicians, or political analysts to study their motives. One needs a zoologist, in particular, a herpetologist who studies frogs, because political frogs are the most dangerous species in our political zoo.
Political frogs cause instability as they make people mistrust and despise politicians. They alter the political equation and neglect to honour the voting public that put them in power. They make political donors regret giving money to their cause. They create tension and discord among parties of their own coalition, and they make us weary of voting.
Among the animals in the Malaysian zoo are the solitary fox, lemmings which willingly do as they are told, cocks which make a lot of noise at certain times, bulls which imagine they are macho but produce a lot of rubbish from one end of their anatomy.
There are also double-headed snakes which will betray you with their hypocrisy, rhinos with their impenetrable thick skin which will charge at you when their sensitivities are pricked, pigs which treat women badly or willingly grab business opportunities for themselves or their cronies, and of course, the frogs.
Frogs are an important part of the food chain because they help to control the population of insects but in Malaysian politics, frogs are a political tool used by unprincipled leaders, to betray the public. Leaders who lack integrity and are desperate to enlarge their power base use frogs. It is all about power.
Frogs jump for money, to have a court case dropped or to gain positions of power. The first recorded political frog of Malaysia jumped to gain power in Sabah.
The United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) was formed in the 1960s, but the party left the Sabah Alliance in 1967. After the state elections, Upko’s assemblyman in Kiulu, Payar Juman, declared himself an independent and so, scuppered Upko’s chance to form the state government.
In his book “March 8: A Time for Change”, author Kee Thuan Chye wrote that Payar claimed that Upko had created tension in the state and jumped ship to the United Sabah National Organisation (Usno). He was then made the social welfare minister in the state.
If there was a new species to be discovered in Sabah, it would have to be the political frog. The country has seen an invasion of political frogs ever since Payar’s defection. The frogs have crossed the South China Sea and caused discord in Peninsular Malaysia, too.
Remember Perak in 2008, when three MPs dashed the hopes of all Perakians with their betrayal? Money was the prime mover, and two of them were charged with corruption, but the charges were dropped when these frogs became independents and friendly to Umno-Baru/BN.
To this day, Perak desperately needs a strong leader with a vision to lead it out of its poverty trap. It was once the second richest state after Selangor, at the time when the British granted independence. Perak has now slipped to being the second poorest state in Peninsular Malaysia.
Other states have also seen the terrible effects of frogs and for those of you who think Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the only one guilty of encouraging the invasion of frogs from Umno-Baru to his party Bersatu, his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim is not without blame.
During hustings, last May for the Sandakan by-election, Anwar – who is also PKR president – mocked Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) saying it was “insignificant”.
Furious at the jibe, the PBS Information chief Joniston Bangkuai reminded Anwar of the allegation that he had been responsible for PBS’s downfall in 1994, when Anwar, as the DPM, had encouraged several assemblypersons to jump ship to BN.
In the 1994 Sabah state elections, PBS won 25 seats (BN managed 23) and were set to rule Sabah. PBS had pulled out of the BN coalition in 1990. The defections to BN put an end to their dreams, paved the way for Umno to dominate in Sabah and established the toxic and unsavoury race and religious brand of rule that was characteristic of Peninsular Malaysian politicians.
So, how can we stop political frogs from causing instability again? Mahathir has ruled out anti-hopping laws when, last December, he said, “We are a democratic government. We believe in democracy and democracy allows frogs to jump.”
It was convenient for him to say this while busy planning his moves to enable his party Bersatu to become the dominant party in the fragile Pakatan Harapan coalition. Remember that in 2017, he once said not to trust frogs. He has since backtracked because he knows that it is politically expedient to use frogs.
Malaysians easily forget but if you want real change, you must demand that your Member of Parliament supports a law to stop these political frogs.
The resignation or expulsion of an MP from his party must trigger a by-election. The details can be debated in Parliament. Malaysians have had enough of political instability.
Why go through the trouble of holding elections and hoping that our votes will create change – and promise a future for our children when political frogs are allowed to switch parties, cause mayhem and betray the nation?
These frogs are not charming princes. Their kisses make the country regress.