The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) supports the statement by YB Dato’ Sri Azalina, Member of Parliament (MP) for Pengerang who is also the former Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, to bring a Private Member’s Bill (PMB) to enact a “Recall of Members of Parliament Act”. We also support YB Azalina’s proposal to establish a “Caucus for Parliamentary Reform and Multi-Party Democracy” by involving interested members of parliament across parties.
Soon after the change of government from Barisan Nasional (BN) to Pakatan Harapan (PH) after the 14th General Election (GE14), the issue of party hopping became a key concern when the then Deputy President of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), YB Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir issued a statement to accept several UMNO MPs into his party. Series of party hopping then continued until the Sheraton Move which saw the fall of PH government due to the defection of PPBM who worked with UMNO and PAS to form the National Alliance (PN) government. And, when UMNO parliamentarians withdrew their support, the PN government collapsed last August.
With this series of party hopping that led to two government changes in three years, the people and ordinary voters could only act as spectators without any power to make the elected representatives respect the mandate given to them in the last GE. Elected representatives who have jumped and changed party or coalition are seen to have no firm stance but instead to have acted on their own personal or party interests. This will erode the people’s trust in the election process and lower turnout if people continue to be left powerless to make their elected representatives accountable to the voters who voted in the last election.
Therefore, BERSIH 2.0 urges the Prime Minister Dato Seri Ismail Sabri to support this Bill and allow it to be debated and accepted for further scrutiny, and not be sidelined by the piled-up government affairs. The giving way for the private member’s bill was made for RUU 355 under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak with YB Azalina as its Law Minister at that time. We hope that the private member’s bill will not be rejected due to any technicalities by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker, Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun.
BERSIH 2.0 places high hope for the Bill to be tabled in Parliament based on the statement by Law Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar on 30 August who stated that “An anti-party hopping law is important. I welcomed such a proposal after Barisan Nasional lost the 2018 General Election. If there is a new offer made, I hope the opposition will not turn it down as that is not an honourable trait of an administration”.
BERSIH 2.0 calls on all government and opposition MPs to support the “Recall of Members of Parliament Bill 2021” brought by YB Azalina. It is time for the democratic system to be reformed to address the challenges and current political realities. Over the past two years, BERSIH 2.0 has conducted discussions, research and engaged with various parties to find appropriate policies to deter party hopping. From the studies conducted, we are of the view that one of the methods to prevent this phenomena is to create a mechanism for the recall mechanism which empowers voters to determine the fate of their elected representatives who hop party.
BERSIH 2.0 reiterates that empowering the people to decide whether their elected representatives should be sacked is the way that truly upholds voters’ supremacy. On the other hand, if a new law empowers the party leadership to get rid of any elected representatives by first expelling them from the party, then the elected representatives may become a yes man/woman to the party leader (and the government, if the party is in government) and at the expense of the interest of the voters that he or she represents.
Anti-hopping law which empowers party leaders and not voters must be rejected, as it only cures an old disease by bringing in a new one. Our country needs more reforms such as the GLC Act, equitable constituency development fund, separation of the Attorney General’s Chambers and the office of Public Prosecutors, Political Funding and Financing Act, and reform of the appointment of key government positions. All these reforms will reduce the incentive for elected representatives to party hop for personal gain while promoting healthier, and more mature democratic competition based on better programmes for the people to vote.
The Steering Commitee BERSIH 2.0