Anti-hopping provisions in party constitution may ensure political stability, say pundits

PETALING JAYA: Political parties amending their constitution to include provisions related to the anti-hopping law may ensure greater political stability, say pundits.

Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) said such a move was necessary in the spirit of the law which was passed by Parliament.

“A representative is chosen partly because of the party label, and has to honour the party’s position in any legislative decision,” he said on Tuesday (Sept 27).

“It may be argued that the law is undemocratic, but here, what both parties are saying is that the collective (party’s) rights take precedence over individual rights,” added Tunku Mohar.

DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) are the two parties which had recently amended their constitutions to insert such provisions to plug the loopholes of the anti-hopping law.

Tunku Mohar noted that just like any other laws, the anti-party hopping law was not perfect, hence it was important to take such steps to prevent abuse.

On whether the anti-hopping law could prevent defections that could lead to the government losing its majority, he said it remains to be seen if there were loopholes that cannot be covered by the law.

“The law was passed to address party defections and political instability that have happened since February 2020. It remains to be seen if there are other loopholes that cannot be covered,” added Tunku Mohar.

He added that if the law is followed, it could be expected that there will be no defections among the legislators, and both the government and opposition can focus on legislative processes that can benefit the rakyat.

“With such stability, we can of course expect the next elected government to complete its term,” he said.

According to the anti-party hopping law passed in Parliament on July 28, MPs who defect from the party they represented as election candidates, or those who became independents, would have to vacate their seats.

However, MPs sacked by their party would not lose their seats and MPs who voted against their party’s wishes in Parliament would not be affected.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said parties would have to adopt such amendments to their constitutions in order to fire disobedient lawmakers and to make sure they lose their seats as elected representatives as well.

“This could prevent lawmakers from pledging support for a prime minister candidate who is not endorsed by their party but at the same time wanting to remain with the party as they could be at risk of being sacked,” he said.

However, Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said the amendment could be seen as undemocratic as it stifles dissenting opposing views within the party.

“A party should allow space for members to express unpopular views and not for a single view to dominate,” he added.

On Sept 18, Amanah passed a motion to amend its constitution so that its MP and state assemblyman who went against the party’s decision or Whip will automatically lose their membership in the party.

On Sunday (Sept 25), DAP passed a motion to amend its constitution in relation to the anti-party hopping law and for elected representatives to toe the line on party decisions.

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