KUALA LUMPUR: Beluran lawmaker Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee (pic) took a dig at his former Sabah Umno counterpart over remarks on party-hopping, saying that it was merely political statements.
Kiandee said outspoken Umno lawmaker Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin was still his friend despite his remark that party hoppers are "frogs, monkeys and gibbons."
The Kinabatangan lawmaker, during his debate on the Royal Address on Monday (March 20), also urged the government to enact anti-hopping laws against such practices.
The Sabah Umno chief claimed that those who hopped parties have personal agendas, and that they did not have pride in leaving in such a manner.
To this, Kiandee said those who changed parties are "not disgusting or have no pride", urging Bung to study the history of Sabah.
"The then Sabah Barisan Nasional government led by Umno was formed because lawmakers from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) joined Umno.
"That is how Sabah Umno was formed in 1994.
"If he thinks that those who jump ship have no pride, then he should know that Umno too had accepted those from other parties.
"So I believe the statement made by Kinabatangan is merely a political one," said Kiandee in his debate as a newly-minted Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) member.
The Public Accounts Committee chairman quit Sabah Umno last year and joined Bersatu.
Kiandee also disputed Bung's statement that those who jumped ship this time will be wiped out in the next general election.
He said that history showed that when two PBS assemblymen joined Umno in 1994, Umno had won all polls until it lost in the 14th General Election.
"So to say that we will be wiped out is also another political statement by Kinabatangan.
"I understand his feelings but there are many of us from Sabah Umno who left, not just me," added Kiandee.
He said that Sabah Umno needs to do soul searching to find out the reason for the mass exodus of its members.
On Bung's call for an anti-hopping law, Kiandee said such laws existed in the Kelantan and Sabah state assemblies but a 1992 Supreme Court judgment changed that.
The Supreme Court had upheld a High Court verdict that the Kelantan anti-hopping law was ultra vires.
Two Kelantan assemblymen were unceremoniously removed after defecting to Umno during the 1990 elections.
The duo were deemed to have vacated their state seats in accordance with the Kelantan state enactment that an assemblyman will lose his seat if he quits or is expelled from his party.
Kiandee said the decision still has not been challenged.
"To say we need anti-hopping laws is also a political statement to make others afraid," he said.