Delay in Tabling the AHL Should Lead To The Formulation Of A Better Law

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) demands the government to commit to tabling a new and stronger anti-hopping law in the first week of July parliamentary session. To avoid further delay, the bill for an Anti-Hoping Recall Law (AHRL) tabled by MP of Pengerang Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said should be adopted for consultation and finetuning immediately.

BERSIH registers its strongest disappointment with the latest news that the Federal Cabinet has made a U-turn on tabling the Anti-Hopping Law (AHL) scheduled on this coming Monday (April 11). The Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was reported to have said that the special Parliament session will proceed to pass a constitutional amendment that would facilitate the introduction of an anti-hopping bill in the future.

Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi also said that the current anti-hopping bill has been sent back for more studies to be conducted on the definition of “party hopping”.

While we are of the view that an anti-hopping law must be passed without delay, BERSIH has also consistently voiced our reservations about the AHL in its current form, as reported in various media.

The two handicaps of the AHL is, firstly, AHL cannot prevent coalition hopping and will not be effective to stem such political instability. Second, party leaders may abuse AHL’s power by sacking dissident or rival lawmakers in within their parties in order to vacate their seats.

With the delay to further study the AHL, we urge the signatories of the MOU, the Ismail Sabri government and Pakatan Harapan (PH), to adopt an Anti-Hopping Recall Law (AHRL) which has been formulated by BERSIH and advanced for federal adoption by Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.[1]

In this design, the seat of any lawmaker can be vacated on the three grounds of party-hopping covered by AHL – MPs leaving or getting expelled by party, independent MPs joining party – as well as coalition-hopping by parties which is not covered by AHL, if enough voters signed signatures to support a recall petition in 21 days. The signature threshold BERSIH recommends is 40% or half of the turnout rate in the last election.

By leaving the decision to voters, AHRL can overcome the two handicaps in the current proposal AHL.

In recognition that different parties and MPs in the Government may have different views on the AHL or AHRL, we urge Prime Minister Ismail Sabri to allow all Government MPs to vote by conscience when the bill is eventually presented. We believe that more than two-third majority of MPs would support the passing of any anti-hopping mechanism to restore political stability and sanity.

States must be given the freedom to explore and choose their preferred anti-hopping mechanism, which may be any variant of AHL or AHRL.

To enable state-level AHL,   amendment to Article 10 to by-pass the 1992 Supreme Court verdict on Noordin Salleh that ruled the AHL unconstitutional should include the words “State Constitutions” and have this effect:

“Restrictions on the right to form associations conferred by paragraph (c) of Clause (1) relating to political party may be imposed by this Constitution and State Constitutions.”

BERSIH believes, when the AHRL bill is tabled in July, MPs or parties which refuse to support the bill or scheme to delay it must be prepared to face the wrath of voters who have to suffer years of political instability and see their votes betrayed by party hoppers.

Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH