KOTA KINABALU: Sabah should adopt its own version of anti-hopping law at the state assembly level, so that any loopholes in the federal Bill can be tweaked and addressed, says Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.
Without specifying particular weaknesses of the anti-hopping Bill passed at Parliament, the Kiulu assemblyman said Sabah now has a chance to look at it closely and introduce improvements.
"To me, it does not have to be exactly the same version as we have to look at the situation in Sabah, for example in the 2018 polls, it was not only a person who jumped but the whole party, which was with Barisan Nasional at the time and sharing the coalition manifesto.
"So I think it is also wrong politically as the people voted for you because of your campaign and manifesto," he said this when met on the sidelines of the town hall and forum on voters’ supremacy held by political watchdog Bersih here on Saturday (Aug 13).
Bangkuai, who is Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) information chief, was invited as a panel speaker and spoke in his personal capacity on the matter and other related issues.
He also disagreed with the suggestion by certain parties that elected representatives who jumped party be banned from contesting for the next term.
"I think the power is on the voters, so if you jump, go back to voting and see if voters agree with your decision, why ban that person from contesting. Let the people decide if the person did the right thing or not," he added.
Earlier during the forum, Bangkuai said what was important is that such a move should not result in a change of government.
Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin, who was also in the panel, agreed that the federal version of the anti-hopping Bill must be moulded to the Sabah situation before adopted here.
He highlighted that one of the loopholes was that elected representatives who were sacked by their parties would not lose their seat.
"This created another issue, if someone within the party purposely defies whatever instruction by the party, then how?
"DAP raised this question and the answer is each party needs to do something to control the discipline of their party members.
“A party should have their own say to have better definition under what situation can (cause) ceased membership, which based on the current Bill definition, is considered party hopping,” he added.
He also disagreed in banning lawmakers who left their party from contesting in future.
Another panellist, Kukusan assemblyman Rina Jainal reiterated that there are many reasons that could make a person jump parties.
The main one for opposition representatives was the difficulty of getting funding to bring development to their constituencies, said Rina who recently made headlines for leaving Parti Warisan to join Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah.
"As a new state seat, there is no existing benchmark for Kukusan development.
"The grassroots people might not know our struggles as elected representatives, they just want us to fix the problems, they don’t care where the allocation came from.
"So there could be a thousand reasons for why one jumps parties, but the main point is that a responsible leader will do everything to fulfil their constituents’ aspirations and needs," she added.