Bersih: Hold 'recall elections' to prevent politicians from party hopping

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 14 Mar 2020

PETALING JAYA: Activist Thomas Fann (pic) is calling for the introduction of "recall elections" to prevent a repeat of the week-long political impasse which saw the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.

The Bersih 2.0 chairman said that it would allow voters in a constituency who were dissatisfied with their respective elected representatives to withdraw their mandate.

“If the recall proposal is carried out, then a by-election will be held to fill the vacancy.

“Normally, the petition for recall must first collect enough signatures (the threshold could be something like 10%) of registered voters from the constituency to force the vote of recall, ” he said in a statement on Saturday (March 14).

Fann pointed out that recall elections had been implemented in countries like Argentina, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the Philippines, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Recall mechanism is designed according to local political and social conditions.

"The trigger for a recall can be a popular initiative by a signature campaign or meeting some legislated conditions as in the UK.

“The thresholds to trigger the process and for a successful recall can be adjusted to prevent political opponents from abusing such mechanism, but what it does is to empower voters to recall or revoke their vote for an elected rep mid-term for whatever legitimate reason, ” he said.

In the Malaysian context, Fann said if the recall election mechanism was part of our election laws, it still might not prevent politicians from switching political allegiance, but it would make them think twice before doing so.

Fann also said that it would compel elected representatives to work harder for their constituents for the fear of recall elections, as the reason for recall polls was not limited only to party-hopping.

“Party-hoppers often justify their actions as necessary to serve their constituents better. If true, the party-hopper may defeat the recall proposal at the poll," he said.

Fann said that this was a better option than anti-hopping laws as recall elections allowed voters to decide if they side with the defector or their old party.

While still being in favour of anti-hopping laws, he admitted that it could give political parties almost absolute power over their MPs and state assemblymen.

He added that anti-hopping laws had also been rejected in the past by the Federal Court as it was in violation of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of association.

“The mandate of voters took second place to the power play of politicians. Backdoor government may be legal but it can never be legitimised.

“We must amend our laws to totally prevent or at least minimise the possibility of such political betrayals by empowering voters through a recall mechanism, ” he added.

The week-long political impasse which involved the exit of 26 Bersatu MPs and 11 former PKR MPs, saw the collapse of the Pakatan government and the installation of the Perikatan Nasional coalition as government, headed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

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