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Ahad, April 21, 2024

Tawau MP calls for extension of Anti-Party Hopping Law to Sabah State Legislature

KUALA LUMPUR: Goodbye to the decades-old culture of Political Frogging, says Tawau MP Datuk Christina Liew who advocates the extension of the newly-passed Anti-Party Hopping Bill to the Sabah State Legislative Assembly.

She urged the GRS-BN State Government to emulate Parliament by amending the State Constitution to accommodate a similar law to prohibit members of the State Assembly from party hopping.

“I believe people at large fully support the proposal for all state assemblies in general and the Sabah State Assembly in particular to adopt the Anti-Hop Law from the perspectives of standardisation and uniformity for ensuring political stability and continued socio-economic progress.

“We cannot afford to let the country descend into political chaos as a result of political instability caused by unconstitutional defections. Defections by elected MPs or Assemblymen lead to the loss of Parliamentary or Assembly majority, and this in turn leads to unnecessary elections which constitute a waste of public funds.

“I concur with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the Anti-Party Hopping Enactment aims to avert a situation of facing continuous political crisis in the country,” Liew said in a media statement issued here on Friday.

The parliamentarian is among the 209 MPs who voted in favour of the Bill in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday. The MPs unanimously passed the Bill by voting for the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 2022 with the provision to prevent members of the Dewan Rakyat from switching political parties.

Liew believes that the electorate will now have no qualms about coming out in full force and voting to decide on the destiny of our country in the forthcoming 15th General Election (PRU15). Based on a post-election analysis, she noted that one of the factors for the low voter turnout in previous elections was that the people were reluctant to come out and cast their ballots “for fear that history will repeat itself whereby some of the winners may ‘jump ship’ upon their electoral victory.”

The candidates’ despicable act of betraying the constituents’ trust and support by switching political allegiance after winning on their own party ticket had angered the rakyat because it defeated the purpose of holding a state or general election, she added.

In this respect, the Tawau MP cited two classic examples of defections in Sabah which destabilised the then government of the day and caused the collapse of the PBS and Warisan Plus Governments in 1994 and 2020, respectively.

The Sabah State Assembly, Liew recalled, was dissolved on July 30, 2020 due to change of party affiliation by 13 assemblymen.

Quoting a media report, she lamented that more than 70 elected representatives (MPs and State Assemblymen) in the country had defected since the 14th General Election in 2018.

Against this unhealthy trend, she contended that it is imperative for all state assemblies to enact a similar anti-party hopping law to stop the culture of “horse-trading” and “political frogging” so that there would be no room for “political frogs” to thrive in Malaysia.

Liew continued : “Malaysian citizens desire for political stability, and not political discord. They want a strong and stable government so that we can achieve tangible progress in all aspects of socio-economic development without any undue disruption.

“Integrity is vital for elected representatives because they are elected by the people to serve the country. Loyalty to one’s party is of paramount importance and so is loyalty to the people’s mandate. Elected representatives must honour the electoral mandate from the people.”

From her  observation, the electorate is not only weary from all the political drama during the current political crisis beginning 2020 until today (2020-2022), but is also fed up with the antics of unprincipled politicians who only think of their own interests without considering the well-being of voters who had voted them into power.

In retrospect, Liew said Sabah is the first state in the country to have introduced the Anti-Party Hopping Bill in 1988.

“That year, the then Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Government passed the Bill in the State Legislature to stop assemblymen from changing parties.

“However, the Anti-Party Hopping Act was declared unconstitutional by the Federal Court in 1992 as it was said to contradict Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees Malaysian citizens the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association,” she pointed out. “The Federal Court had declared that crossing over to another political party was a freedom of association.”