Segamat Folk Fed-Up with Party-Hopping

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Santhara accused of failing to carry out his responsibilities as MP.

Voters in Segamat, whose MP, Edmund R Santhara Kumar, switched allegiance to Perikatan Nasional in February, have become disillusioned with the electoral process, saying the system is being abused by party-hopping politicians.

During The Malaysian Insight’s visit to the Johor constituency, residents said they felt cheated by the candidate they voted for in the 2018 general election.

“If you want to ‘jump’ in Malaysia, there might as well not be a need for political parties. Let all MPs contest as independent candidates,” said e-hailing driver Ibrahim Shah Bidin.

The 54-year-old was among the 55,350 registered voters in Segamat in the last elections.

Saiful Anwar Zahari, 30, said Santhara’s defection from Pakatan Harapan showed that he lacks integrity, adding that he believes the parliamentarian will not be able to defend the seat in the next polls.

“There is no self-identity. He just follows whichever party he feels is strong. When our leaders are morally compromised, we the people suffer the consequences.

“If he contests again, maybe, he will jump again. I don’t think he will contest again in Segamat.”

Santhara won the seat on a PKR ticket, but in late February, joined 10 other MPs from the party to form Perikatan Nasional with Barisan Nasional, PAS, Muhyiddin Yassin’s faction in Bersatu and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.

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Segamat PKR grassroots leaders hold the same opinion as constituents.

“We brought him into Segamat, and for three years, we introduced Segamat voters to him because he isn’t a local. After he won, he did this,” said a leader who declined to be named.

“We are tired of answering questions from the local community (about Santhara’s defection). Now, he has no chance in Segamat. If he dares contest here again, we will bury him.”

The leader also accused Santhara of failing to carry out his responsibilities as MP.

“There have been no party programmes after he won in 2018. It was only three months after he won that he came down to the ground to visit. Right now, we’re conducting our own programmes on our own initiative and using our own funding.

“For all parliamentary activities, he just sends a representative. I myself have represented him many times at official government functions.

“He didn’t come down even when the menteri besar visited Segamat. He has offered no service to Segamat. He’s an elected representative only in name.”

In the 2013 elections, Santhara stood as an independent in the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat. He got just 999 votes, and lost to P Kamalanathan of BN component MIC.

After joining PN, Santhara was appointed deputy Federal Territories minister.

The PKR grassroots leader interviewed said Santhara does not stand a chance of defending Segamat come the 15th general election.

“He won GE14 because of non-Malay votes. Why is he now working with PN, which has Umno?”

Even Segamat BN leaders do not think Santhara can win re-election.

Jementah Barat Umno Youth chief Khairul Shafiee Daud said despite Santhara now being part of PN, BN will want to claim the seat.

Segamat was traditionally held by MIC, with former president S. Subramaniam serving as its MP for three terms up to GE14.

“Whoever the BN candidate is, our machinery is ready to support him or her,” said Khairul Shafee.

“Santhara is only a temporary representative. He is not a BN representative.”

He hopes BN will not select candidates with a history of party-hopping for the next elections.

“These party-hoppers have no integrity. It would be good to have an anti-hopping act.”

Santhara, meanwhile, told The Malaysian Insight that he is a Bersatu member after submitting forms to secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin earlier this week.

“The Segamat parliamentary seat now belongs to Bersatu, and it is up to the president (Muhyiddin) to choose a candidate for the next general election.”

He insisted that he has done well for his constituents, saying he wants Segamat folk to remember him for the good service he has provided over the last two years. – TMI