Press Statement(1 November 2018): UMNO MPs en masse joining Bersatu: Destablising Democracy

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0) expresses grave concerns on the possible acceptance of United Malays National Organization (UMNO) members of parliament to cross over to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as revealed by Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Mahathir.

Such an act of party hopping by members of parliament is a betrayal to the mandate given by the voters in the 14th General Election who voted them into the parliament based on the platform of the political party that they contested.

It also makes a mockery of our democracy if members of parliament of losing parties such as UMNO can easily cross over to the ruling parties and enjoy all the glory and benefits of being in the government instead of playing their role as opposition to provide checks and balances in a democracy.

It further raises the questions if these UMNO members of parliament will be held accountable for their past abuses of power and corruption under the previous regime once they are accepted in the ruling coalition.

Many have suggested for the government to legislate anti-hopping law. Nevertheless, anti-hopping law has been ruled as in violation of the right to freedom of association guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution by Federal Court in the case involving Kelantan state assembly and Nordin Salleh in 1992.

The issue of en-mass cross over highlights an institutional contradiction in our system that needs careful deliberation for solution as democracy is deepened and coming alive. On one hand, lawmakers must have adequate freedom to even go against party line for parliamentary debates to be meaningful. On the others, en mass cross-over of lawmakers is harmful to democracy as it can both substantially alter election outcome and cause instability by triggering inter-party competition in courting defection.

BERSIH 2.0 repeats its call for extensive debates on electoral system and party system in the agenda of electoral reform. It strongly urges all Pakatan Harapan parties to act responsibly as parties in government to not cause disruption and instability to the political system by enticing just six months after the change of government.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan must remember that Malaysians did not vote out Barisan Nasional to see a rampant exercise of party-hopping clearly driven by positions and personal gains and may be perceived as an escape route from corruption and criminal prosecution.

Released by,

Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0