KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — The formation of a “backdoor” government through party-hopping or political realignment is not unconstitutional but it is certainly an immoral one, observed constitutional law expert Professor Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi.
Speaking at a forum titled “Checkmate! Death of Democracy in Malaysia” the renowned academic explained that in other more developed parliamentary democracies, there are laws to discourage or prevent party hopping.
“Around the world if an MP is elected on a party ticket, and after the election he wants to cross the floor (change parties) he must resign from his elected post and he must then go back to the people for re-election.
“In some countries this goes even further. If you have to cross the floor, then there is a ban on you from holding public office for a period of time. So, crossing the floor must be done on your conscience and not because of some secret incentive or public office given.
“Of course, corruption also applies if there was monetary inducement,” said Shad in the forum organised by the National Human Rights Society (Hakam) Youth and was livestreamed on its Facebook page.
The Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair at University of Malaya also urged Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to convene an emergency Parliamentary sitting as soon as possible in order to determine who commands the majority of the House.
He said that prior to the Perak political crisis, the decision on who commands the majority of the House is not the decision of the Ruler but instead is the purview of the House itself.
Shad cited the 1966 Sarawak Constitutional Crisis where 21 out of 42 state assemblymen had declared they had no confidence in Chief Minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan and the latter was dismissed by Governor Tun Abang Openg.
Following a judicial intervention, the Court decided that Stephen can only be dismissed from his position as chief minister if he no longer commands the confidence of a majority of his state assemblymen.
This rule was overturned during the Perak political crisis in 2009 when the late ruler Sultan Azlan Shah directly interviewed DAP party hoppers who abandoned their support for the then Pakatan Rakyat government led by Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin in favour of the Barisan Nasional Mentri Besar candidate.
The learned academic observed that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billal Shah had followed Sultan Azlan’s footsteps instead of convening an emergency sitting of Parliament to resolve the crisis.
When asked regarding a snap election, Shad pointed out that a snap election while Malaysia is facing economic headwinds is not the best idea.
“An election may not sound ideal. The last election costs half a billion ringgit. The next one (if we hold it now) is around RM750 to RM800 billion because everything will have to be ordered at emergency basis and because we have to order at last minute. Can the government afford it right now?
“Election will always polarise the nation. Every issue will be converted to issues of race and religion – Following the last election, whether it was road rage, appointment of the AG, a judge, everything was converted to a racially-based perspective.
“We were deeply polarised, more polarised than we have ever been since 1969. Lately you must have noticed that the previous opposition are not raising racist, religious issue. There have been mild and conciliatory statements even from the PAS president.
“If election is called, the race card will be used,” Shad predicted.