PETALING JAYA: There needs to be a change in the electoral system by having the public vote for political parties instead of individual candidates, says a former Election Commission chairman.
Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said this would prevent any party-hopping by an elected representative because if a candidate decides to jump to another party, he or she would automatically lose the seat.
“This system is fairer as the party still retains the seat and they get to appoint another person to represent the constituency,” he told FMT.
Despite supporting recall elections, the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) chairman said this process was not the best option as it would be more time-consuming and expensive.
“A recall election is good in terms of democracy as the people are involved all the way. The public will be given a chance to take a vote to see if they want this elected representative to be disqualified and if they do agree, this will give way to a by-election.
“However, this process will be very lengthy and will cost more money as campaigning will have to take place just like a normal election, which is very expensive,” he said.
Yesterday, former Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said said she planned to send a notice of motion to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to table a Recall Bill.
The Pengerang MP hoped the motion would be the “starting point” to introduce recall elections.
She said recall elections would allow the people to revoke the mandate given to an elected representative if he or she decides to switch parties.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann said Rashid’s proposal to change the electoral system from a First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system to a Closed List Proportional Representation (CLPR) system would involve major amendments to the Federal Constitution but, most of all, require wide-scale support from all stakeholders.
The FPTP system is currently being practised in Malaysia whereby the candidate who obtains a simple majority wins the seat, even if the other candidates combined garnered more votes.
“It took New Zealand over 10 years before they made the shift from FPTP to their current system that incorporates CLPR,” Fann said.
“A recall election would be easier to enact and can still support any change in the electoral system which can retain some FPTP seats.”
He also said a recall election would be a better mechanism compared to an anti-hopping law which would only deny the constituents the right to affirm or reject their representative’s decision.
Fann said an anti-hopping law would also face a constitutional hurdle in Article 10 that guarantees freedom of association.
“Bersih has advocated the recall election soon after the Sheraton Move as the solution to deter party-hopping because it empowers voters,” he said.
“It also reduces the power of party leaders to threaten MPs who may, in good conscience, not agree with the bad policies of their party or have to support a corrupt leader.
“Under an anti-hopping law, the leader can sack the MP who is forced to resign. A by-election would be triggered and the MP will not be able to contest for five years,” he said.
He said a recall election might not totally stop party-hopping but it would act as a deterrent by causing elected representatives to think twice before hopping.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has also backed Azalina on her proposed bill, saying this would be necessary to put the power back into the hands of the public by withdrawing their support for their chosen representatives who change allegiance.
TI-M president Muhammad Mohan said this would bode well to ensure that promised reforms are carried out and justice and functional public administration would “rule the day”.
“MPs and elected representatives are accountable and answerable to their respective electorates for the mandate and duty given to them, not party leaders, cliques and promises of positions and gratification,” he added in a statement today.