Weekly Highlights

Time for a Recall Election Act

A Recall Election Act should be enacted to discourage elected representatives from act of party hopping which has nothing to do with real public interest. 

A year after the infamous “Sheraton Move”, two Members of Parliament defected from Pakatan Harapan to endorse Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government. There is again mounting pressure from the public on political parties to enact an Anti-Hopping Law.

However, Recall Election Law (REL) maybe a more suitable option for Malaysia. 

Due to our First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) Single Member Constituency electoral system, every elected representative is elected with a simple majority.

In our Westminster model, elected MPs or State Assemblymen (ADUN) were also elected on the basis of his or her political party unless the person stood and won as an independent candidate. Therefore, many are arguing that it is immoral for an elected representative to defect to another party after election. 

However, we must first acknowledge that not all the defections are as bad as what we see right now. For instances, can a government backbencher MP, who disagrees with the ruling party’s decision to build a nuclear power plant in his constituency, defect to an opposition party which opposes such policy? Will this defection also be considered in the same light as those who defected for personal interest?

In fact, Anti-hopping law infringes Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which provides for the freedom of association for all Malaysians. Hence, a better reform should be to discourage elected members from defecting during their tenure and to reduce the incentive for political parties to entice their opponent’s elected representative to defect. We should not have to impose an outright ban of the freedom of association on elected representatives. 

To do this, we can empower constituents to initiate a recall election, i.e. a vote to remove or “recall” elected representatives, if they do not agree with the defection. In other words, any elected MP or ADUN who defects may face a recall election which will shorten or even end their career. At the same time, political parties will also think twice if they really want to entice defection if there is no serious and real public interest involved in the defection. The act of defection will be futile if the defected MP or ADUN can be removed in a recall election. Therefore, only those who have very strong reasons would opt for defection, and even then, they will have to convince their electorate of such reasons. 

Undoubtedly, most Malaysians, especially the younger generation, are tired of the worsening politicking and power play dominated by Perikatan Nasional. Out of such frustration, many are calling for anti-hopping law to ban defection outright.

However, institutional reform must be thoroughly thought out and holistic. In my humble opinion, a Recall Election Law is a better solution compared to Anti-Hopping Law..

Wong Shu Qi

MP for Kluang

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