Why an anti-hopping law won’t work, and what will
BY HAFIDZ BAHAROM
There have been a spate of local non-government organisations in Malaysia writing about support towards having an Anti-Hopping Law.
Such a law is supposed to stop Malaysian politicians from jumping from their political parties and toppling a government, as we saw in February and March this year.
However, there are a few problems with such a law being implemented that even the likes of Suhakam and the Bar Council need to take note.
Particularly, does this mean the need to amend the Federal Constitution through having a 2/3 majority that no political party has had in two decades.
At the same time, what if an entire political party left a coalition, as we saw PPBM do in March this very year? Their politicians did not leave their party, their entire party left government.
And if the politician is fired from his party, as we saw Tan Sri Muhyiddin face as deputy prime minister under Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak – would that have triggered a by-election?
In fact, this will be a court argument really soon by the lawmakers who left PKR – is getting fired the same as leaving the party?
With all the above in mind, the alternative for us in Malaysia is simple – amend our election laws to allow recall elections.
Put the choice of whether to remove a sitting MP or state assemblyman for whatever reason back into the hands of their constituents without having to wait five years for the next general election.
The method is simple – constituents file a petition with the Election Commission (EC). Then the EC determines a certain period for the petition to be signed by a set number of voters in that constituency.
Once the deadline lapses, the EC will look into the number of signatures, verify each and every signature, and declare whether a recall election will be held or not.
A recall election is also better than an anti-hopping legislation for another reason – it allows constituents of each and every elected lawmaker to call them back for whatever reason.
Maybe they yell in parliament louder than a macaque, maybe the lawmaker made a sexist joke, maybe the lawmaker was raising a point that went contrary to what his or her constituents believe in.
Or maybe he suddenly pulled out a vape device right in the middle of a seating of the Dewan Rakyat for a puff.
It would be placing the right to hold lawmakers responsible for their actions to voters immediately without waiting for the next general election to induce amnesia or be blurred by some general feeling of hype and partisan politics.
So for the NGOs out there, they really should look into strengthening democracy and letting people decide their MPs through a recall election law rather than an anti hopping law.
In this way, it isn’t just loyalty to party that is being tested, but each and every elected official must be loyal to his voters through his actions and words as well.