KOTA KINABALU: Law expert Shad Saleem Faruqi believes the time is ripe for Malaysia to enact a law preventing politicians from hopping to another party after winning an election.
Speaking at a Malaysia Day forum here today, Shad said that although everyone had a right to associate with any others or any party, political morality should be upheld as well.
Shad, who holds the Tunku Abdul Rahman chair at the Universiti Malaya law faculty, said it is saddening that Malaysia does not have an anti-hopping law.
He had reservations about a Federal Court decision upholding party hopping as being part of freedom of association. The ruling was made in the case of the Kelantan state legislative assembly against Nordin Salleh and in Mustapha Harun v Sabah legislative assembly.
“It is my personal view that was a political judgement. You can associate, disassociate and reassociate with any party. But the court also conveniently forgot that the right of freedom of association is subject to morality.
“Morality does not only mean sex morality, but also political morality. It is on this ground of political morality that many countries, like India, the legislature enacted the anti-hopping law,” he said.
Shad pointed out that a politician has the right to jump ship and leave his or her party but it is only fair that he resigns from his seat.
However, he said it does not stop them from going back to the constituents, explain their action and ask for their electorates’ votes again.
Out of all 13 states in Malaysia, Shad said he noticed that party hopping is quite prevalent in certain states particularly Sabah, Perak and Kelantan.
The forum was organised by the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko)
Last year five assemblymen from Upko and one MP left Barisan Nasional to throw their support behind Warisan and Pakatan Harapan, a day after the general election.
Their action caused the collapse of the BN government led by former chief minister Musa Aman whose cabinet, which included two Upko assemblymen, had been sworn in less than 12 hours before.
As a result, Warisan and its allies PKR and DAP seized power. Upko president Madius Tangau, who is MP for Tuaran, was made a nominated assemblyman and appointed as one of Sabah’s three deputy chief ministers.
Since then, several other assemblymen have chosen to jump parties to join PH and Warisan including all but one Umno assemblyman.