KOTA KINABALU: “The proposal made by The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) to deter party hoppping should be seriously consider by all the relevant stakeholders in the country. In the Webinar organised by BERSIH 2.0 titled “How to Deter Party Hopping in Malaysia – An exploration of Remedies”, UPKO was invited to be part in the panel discussion together with YB Anthony Loke from DAP, Datuk Rahman Dahlan from UMNO and Dr. Wong Chin Huat from BERSIH 2.0.

In the Webinar the introduction of Anti-Hoppping Law and Recall Election Laws were discussed as a mean to outlaw defections of an elected representative from the party that he/she represented during the election and joining another party immediately or after a period of time. Most people are not familiar with the concept of Recall Election Laws (REL) as compared to the Anti-Hopping Law (AHL). These two concepts are different but having the same purpose of deterring or outlawing defections of elected representatives. Some countries are currently practicing the AHL or REL.

For REL, the voters have the say and will decide whether to demand for a recall election when a lawmaker decided to resign from his party or defect to another party. It will punish lawmakers who change party against the wish of their constituents while leaving untouched those who do so with the consent or even blessing of their constituents.

There is a continuous debate and demand that AHL be implemented. AHL is to cause a by-election if an elected representative defects, resign or sacked from his party. As it is now the law does not allow for us to implement AHL because of a decision of the Supreme Court in 1992 which held such law is unconstitutional that it restricts freedom of association under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Therefore, to introduce AHL would require some fundamental changes in the Federal Constitution.

Since the definition of AHL also includes lawmakers who has been sacked from his party, there are concerns that if AHL is implemented it could produce rubber-stamp legislatures more subservient to the executive or the party leadership and would therefore curtail the independence and critical thinking of an elected representatives an idea which is grounded to our type of electoral system that is the “First-Past-The-Post (FSTP)”. That is why it was proposed that the introduction of a REL is seen as more suitable to our country’s electoral system.

There are other excellent proposals made to deter party hopping such as Equitable Constituency Development Fund where opposition lawmakers are also given access to this and not only towards the government elected representative. Another proposal is the Confidence Supply Agreement which we have seen recently practice in Perak where the new Menteri Besar received a support of vote of confidence even from the opposition lawmakers. There are many other good proposals made by BERSIH 2.0. I recommend that every political parties and concern citizens should read and understand these proposals. If there are those who believe that something must seriously be done to address the political instability cause by the defections of our elected representatives then the proposal made by BERSIH 2.0 merits serious consideration and our support.”

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