An anti-party-hopping law in Malaysia has been mooted by both the government and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) ever since the infamous Sheraton Move back in early 2020 where several MPs ‘jumped’ ship from their respective political parties and caused the Pakatan Harapan government to fall. While there have been several brief discussion on the introduction of an anti-party-hopping law in Parliament, nothing concrete has been on the cards yet.
The closest the law has been pushed to become reality has got to be when former Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin offered an anti-party-hopping law to be pushed through in Parliament in exchange for temporary bipartisan support from opposition MPs. However, Muhyiddin’s tenure as Prime Minister ended before such a move could even materialise and it is now up to current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri to reintroduce such an initiative.
Speaking of which, one of the most vocal MPs that has supported and pushed for an anti-party-hopping law has got to be Pengerang MP and former Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker, Dato’ Sri Azalina binti Othman Said. Just today, Azalina shared an easy-to-understand FAQ regarding this proposed anti-party-hopping law which explains the law and its importance in today’s Malaysian political landscape on her Twitter page.
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Saya beri sedikit pandangan tentang apa itu Akta Mencegah Lompat Parti ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/lkzuL2hvWY
— Azalina Othman Said (@AzalinaOthmanS) August 29, 2021
Here’s a breakdown of what Azalina shared:
1. What is an Anti-party-hopping Act?
An Anti-party-hopping Act is a law which prohibits MPs elected by the rakyat during a General Election from ‘jumping with their seats’ to another political party after wining the seat.
Currently, there are no laws or regulations prohibiting an individual from jumping from one political party to another as it is a right safeguarded under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
2. Why is the act of jumping parties considered unprofessional?
This action disrupts the balance of power of MPs in Dewan Rakyat which is responsible for drafting laws, the continuity of government as well as Parliamentary Democracy.
3. What is the worst repercussion from party hopping in Malaysia?
It will and has caused our political landscape to become disoriented and a mess with the welfare of the rakyat being neglected.
4. What are some examples of party-hopping?
- Leaving a political party or being dismissed by said party.
- The political party being banned or its registration being voided.
- Not following the decision made by the political party and taking own stand when voting in Parliament.
5. What is the objective of an Anti-party-hopping Act?
- To safeguard the spirit of democracy by avoiding the rakyat’s mandate being hijacked for the benefit of the ‘hopper’ and to allow the rakyat to decide whether to allow the MP keep the seat.
- To avoid disruption to the balance of power and a power struggle between all political parties.
6. What are some ways to avoid MPs from jumping parties?
One of the ways to do so in an Anti-party-hopping Act is by introducing a ‘Recall Election’.
A Recall Election is a mechanism in which the rakyat can retract their mandate to an MP if the latter jumped parties and a By-Election will be held at the constituency to pick a new MP.
7. What is an Election with Mandate for Parties?
This is a mechanism in which the rakyat will be voting in an Election based on political parties and not individuals. The party will win the seat based on the percentage of votes. Such mechanism requires a revamp of the election system in Malaysia.
8. What is a Confidence and Supply Agreement?
It is an agreement between the government (usually a minority government) with the opposition whereby the latter will agree to support the government or at least sit out when a motion of confidence, no-confidence, budget is voted in Parliament.
9. What is the Empowerment of Opposition and Government Backbenchers?
This is an initiative to empower and safeguard the interest of MPs that is not part of the Cabinet or Deputy Ministers in order to ensure that they do not jump parties due to an offer of positions and possessions are made from certain quarters.
What do you guys think of the explanation by Azalina? After reading through her explanation, do you think an Anti-party-hopping Act should be enacted in Malaysia? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.