Bersih: Party hopping betrays voters, democracy

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 01 Nov 2018

PETALING JAYA: The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has expressed concerns on the possibility of Umno MPs being accepted into Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

It said that party hopping by parliamentarians betrays the mandate given by voters based on the platform of the political party that they contested on.

“It also makes a mockery of our democracy if Members of Parliament (MPs) of losing parties such as Umno can easily cross over to 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,” the Bersih 2.0 steering committee said in a statement Thursday (Nov 1).

Bersih 2.0 said this raises the question if these Umno parliamentarians would be held accountable for their past abuses of power and corruption under the previous regime once they are accepted into the ruling coalition.

The election watchdog added that while many have suggested an anti-hopping law, it has been ruled as violating the right to freedom of association guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution by the Federal Court in the case involving the Kelantan state assembly and Nordin Salleh in 1992.

“The issue of en-mass crossover highlights an institutional contradiction in our system that needs careful deliberation for a solution as democracy is deepened and coming alive.

“On one hand, lawmakers must have adequate freedom to even go against the party line for parliamentary debates to be meaningful.

"On the other, an en-mass crossover of lawmakers is harmful to democracy as it can both substantially alter election outcomes and cause instability by triggering inter-party competition in courting defection,” said Bersih 2.0.

It also reminded Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition that Malaysians did not vote out Barisan Nasional to see a rampant exercise of party-hopping clearly driven by the desire for positions and personal gain.

Bersatu deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir recently said anyone could join the party except former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, and Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

Mukhriz, who is also Jerlun MP, also claimed that some Umno MPs had approached Bersatu.

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