Recall polls will eject errant MPs and elect new ones

There have been many local NGOs writing lately in support of an anti-hopping law to stop politicians from deserting their parties for another and toppling an elected government, as we saw in March.

However, there are a few problems with such a law which the likes of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the Bar Council need to take note of.

In particular, does this mean that the Federal Constitution needs to be amended?

What if an entire political party leaves a coalition, as we saw PPBM do in March? Their politicians did not leave their party; their entire party left the government.

And if a politician is sacked by his party, as we saw with Muhyiddin Yassin, who was the deputy prime minister under former prime minister Najib Razak, will that trigger a by-election?

Soon, this will be a real court argument by the lawmakers who left PKR. Is getting fired the same as leaving the party?

With all the above in mind, the alternative for us in Malaysia is simple -amend our election laws to allow recall elections.

Put the choice of removing a sitting MP or assemblyman back into the hands of their constituents without having to wait five years for the next general election.

The method is simple: Constituents file a petition with the Election Commission (EC) where the period for the petition to be signed by a set number of voters in that constituency will be determined.

After the deadline, the EC will look into the number of signatures, verify them and declare whether a recall election will be held.

Another reason why a recall election is better is that it allows constituents of every elected lawmaker to call them back for any reason such as yelling in Parliament, making sexist jokes, raising a contrary point or even vaping while the Dewan Rakyat proceedings are going on.

Such lawmakers would then be held responsible for their actions as the voters could immediately elect new assemblymen without having to wait for the next general election, whereby then they might have experienced amnesia or be blurred by some general feeling of hype and partisan politics.

So, for the NGOs out there, they really should look at strengthening democracy and letting the people decide their MPs through a recall election law rather than an anti-hopping law.

This way, it is not just loyalty to the party that is being tested but also loyalty to the voters.

 

Hafidz Baharom is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.