Anti-hopping law is just a distraction from other real problems in Malaysia

Editor’s Note: Minimal editing was made to this opinion piece so as to preserve the original feel and to convey the author’s intended message most accurately.

THE bottom line is MPs or state assemblymen are called lawmakers. They raise their hands in Parliament to vote for or against bills, motions and resolutions in Parliament. This is the overall responsibility they have – to pass laws in Parliament.

Someone said the proposed anti-hopping law will stop the frequent change of Government. This is not correct. But what is there to stop an MP from voting against his own party president?

If there is a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister (PM), do you think all UMNO MPs will vote for him?

If there is a motion to vote for UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to be made PM, do you think all UMNO MPs will vote for him?

If there is a motion to vote for PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be made PM, do you think all PKR MPs will vote for him?

If you vote against your own party’s PM or if you vote against your own party’s president in Parliament, isn’t that as good as ‘jumping’ from your party? The effect is the same.

Syed Akbar Ali

Why? Why? Why?

The voters voted for you as their MP because of your party ideology, your party platform, and because of the capacity and integrity of your party leaders, among others. That is what you promised the voters. Now if you vote against your own PM or against your own party president, you have actually betrayed your voters.

So how will the anti-hopping law handle that? Will there be a special clause in the anti-hopping law which will say “All MPs cannot vote against their own party or against their own PM in Parliament”?

But if you don’t have such a clause, then what is the purpose of the anti-hopping law when an UMNO MP can vote against the PM or vote against the UMNO president in Parliament?

And what happens if UMNO takes disciplinary action and then kicks out the recalcitrant MP from the the party?  Does his Parliamentary seat become void and will there be a by election?

What if the recalcitrant MP takes the case to court? The UMNO MP can always accuse the PM or the UMNO president of having betrayed the party ideology or the party platforms instead.

He can take the case to the High Court, if he loses he can appeal to the Appeals Court. If he loses again he can appeal to the Federal Court. And if the General Elections are approaching he can change his lawyers at least three times – to delay the Court case.

He can hire and fire a mamak lawyer, try to fly in a Mat Salleh lawyer and then opt for a Muslim-convert “indeterminate Bumiputera status” local lawyer and then ask for the case to be postponed. They say there are about 20,000 lawyers in the country. How many times can you change lawyers? How many times can you ask to delay the case?

Political survival

I digress. So if UMNO kicks out an MP from the party for disciplinary reasons, then what happens? That is not party jumping. Or say the recalcitrant MP wins the court case and “cannot be kicked out from UMNO”. Then what? He still voted against the PM or against the UMNO president.

My point is the anti-hopping law will not work.  It does not serve the interests of the voters. The anti-hopping law is designed to ensure the political survival of the politicians and the political parties, especially in the present circumstances in Malaysia where no single political party has a majority in Parliament.

And what happens if the entire party “jumps”? What happens if all the MPs in the party “jump”?

Here is an example. Say before the 15th General Election (GE15), PAS went around campaigning and convincing the voters that UMNO/Barisan Nasional (BN) are corrupted while UMNO/BN went around campaigning that PAS members are psycho fanatics.

So both PAS and UMNO went out campaigning and convinced their respective voters. PAS convinced the UMNO-hating voters to vote for PAS while UMNO convinced the PAS-hating voters to vote for UMNO.

And then suddenly after the GE15, both UMNO and PAS could not win a majority in Parliament. So both UMNO and PAS signed an agreement to form a new coalition. They have just betrayed their voters. They just went against all the bad things they said against each other to convince their voters to vote for them. Isn’t this worse than party hopping?

Law will not work

How does the proposed anti-hopping law handle this situation? How does the anti-hopping law protect the voters? It does not.

Because the anti-hopping law is designed to protect the survival of the politicians. No one seems to care if the voters have been betrayed. What about the rights of the voters? Who cares?

Unless there is a special clause in the anti-hopping law which says “political parties cannot form coalition governments after the results of the general elections”. Or that “all political coalitions must be clearly made known to the public before the general elections”.

Let me assure you that the proposed anti-hopping law will say no such thing.

Why? Because the anti-hopping law is to safeguard the survival of the politicians. It will not safeguard your rights and your choices as the voter. As a voter you can go and jump in the Straits of Melaka or in the South China Sea.

And what exactly do they mean by jumping? What about independent MPs? For example, now we have Gerak Independent. Gerak Independent already has four or five candidates who are running in the GE15.

They do not belong to any party but all of them share a common platform. What happens if an independent MP decides to join a political party after he has won the Parliamentary seat? Is that considered party hopping or not? How does the anti-hopping law handle that?

Only a distraction

This brouhaha over the anti-hopping law seems to be a distraction. A deflection from more serious issues that are affecting our country. Serious problems which the politicians obviously do not know how to handle.

The weak ringgit (RM4.45 to US$1.00). The high unemployment levels (especially among the Malays) or the acute labour shortage in the plantations, factories and services that is causing tens of billions of ringgit in losses for the economy or the huge government debt and now the government is cancelling all development projects for the rest of 2022.

These are the real problems in the economy. The politicians do not know how to unwind these terminal cancers. Instead they are whooping and dancing around the fire like heathens, hoping that there will be enough simple folk who will be distracted by their feathers and loin cloths.

What is my suggestion? My suggestion is simple and I believe far more effective. We do not need any anti-hopping laws.

We do not even need to restrict the PM to two terms. Instead we restrict all MPs and all state assemblymen to two terms only. Both in Parliament and in the State legislatures. This will automatically restrict all Menteri Besar, Chief Ministers, State Excos, Federal Ministers, Prime Ministers to a maximum of two terms.

And what is the point of party hopping when you only have two terms? Or less? – July 29, 2022


Syed Akbar Ali who blogs OutSyed The Box was a former member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) Panel on Consultation and Prevention of Corruption member.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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