The Malaysian Bar has called on the government to urgently consider enacting anti-hopping legislation that will restrict the ability of lawmakers to switch their political allegiance as this continuing phenomenon among elected representatives is a cause of great concern.
In a statement on Thursday (18 Mar), its president, AG Kalidas said that the Malaysian Bar has, on several occasions, called for the urgent enactment of such laws as they are necessary to strengthen political stability and public confidence in the democratic process in the country.
“We have consistently maintained that there is no prohibition for Parliament to legislate anti-hopping laws at the Federal level,” he said.
He added that Article 10(2) of the Federal Constitution provides that Parliament may by law impose restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, public order or morality.
Kalidas pointed out that unexplained defections and switching of political allegiances by elected representatives have greatly undermined the people’s confidence in the political process, and if it goes on unchecked, will lead to voter apathy.
“Switching parties or political allegiance after being voted in on a particular platform — depending on the particular circumstances of the case — could be viewed as a betrayal of the decision of the voters, and this is clearly an area where the power granted to Parliament by the Federal Constitution should be invoked,” he stated urging legislative action to be taken urgently to discourage and restrict such behaviour.
He said remedies to the issue of party-hopping may require amendments to the Federal Constitution, in particular the removal of the disqualification provision in Article 48(6).
He explained that this would allow for a Member of Parliament to resign the seat and recontest under a different political party, and to allow voters to decide on the party change.
“Nonetheless, the enactment of anti-hopping laws to curb the problem of crossing the floor in State Assemblies or the Federal Parliament is the direction in which the country needs to move to and what all political leaders need to commit and work towards,” Kalidas said.
“A government that is sustained in power by party-hopping may also lose power by party-hopping,” Kalidas reiterated.