With reference to the article “There’ll never be an anti-hopping law, says analyst”, I propose that instead of an anti-hopping law, there should be a law whereby if an MP or assemblyman switches party mid-term, their seat will automatically fall vacant and a by-election will be held, in which the former MP or assemblyman will have to contest again if he or she wants to win back the seat under their new party.
This is what happened in the case of Douglas Carswell, the Conservative Party MP for Clacton in the United Kingdom, who switched his allegiance mid-term to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in August 2014, resigned as MP, contested in a by-election and won back his seat as a UKIP MP.
Such a law will not infringe upon the democratic rights or conscience of MPs or assemblymen to switch political parties but will instead protect the rights of voters in the constituency affected by their choice of political party to represent them in the last election, which is also fair on the voters.
For instance, if I vote for a candidate from Party A to represent my constituency and that candidate wins but later switches to Party B, it would force Party B upon me and my fellow constituents, the majority of whom had voted for Party A. This would be unfair on us, unless we are given a fresh choice to vote for the person or party we want to represent us.
Whether Parliament or the state assemblies will be willing to vote for such a law is left to be seen, but if they genuinely prioritise the interests of the voters above party interests, they should support such a move,
If they don’t, then they would have clearly shown themselves for all to see that they are really interested in themselves and not the voters who supported them, despite all the promises made during their election campaign.
If Malaysia continues to allow MPs and assemblymen to switch parties mid-term at their whim, with voters not given any say, this practice of party hopping will not end. It will very likely result in Malaysia having a revolving door for governments, which will lead to political instability and uncertainty, given that more often than not, no one party wins enough seats to form the government on its own without partnering with other parties.
Such political instability will inevitably have an adverse impact on the economy and the continuance of policies introduced and projects initiated by the previous government.
Malaysia will then become a dysfunctional democracy.
Charles F Moreira is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.