Rights commission Suhakam joins call for law against party-hopping that Putrajaya says would violate freedom of association

Takiyuddin previously said in Parliament that the government has no plans to enact any law to prevent elected representatives from defecting. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Takiyuddin previously said in Parliament that the government has no plans to enact any law to prevent elected representatives from defecting. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) urged the government today to enact laws to prevent elected representatives from defecting, after the federal government argued this would be a violation of their freedom of association.

In a statement today, Suhakam said it was unsettled by the rampant changes of political allegiance among lawmakers that have subverted the results of a costly general election.

“It is Suhakam’s view that political parties should be regulated by legislation and rules separate from other kinds of associations. An ‘Anti-Hopping’ law should be enacted in Malaysia in order to ensure political stability and end the impunity of fraud on the electorate, whilst strengthening democracy and protecting the rights of its citizens.

“MPs and assemblymen are elected to represent the voice of their voters, therefore should manifest the needs and views of the Rakyat and not of their own. Together, we should make a conscious, determined effort to build people’s trust in the election and democratic process, failing which, will be to the nation’s detriment,’’ said the commission in a statement today.

Among others, Suhakam said the law could come in the form of voiding an election result if lawmaker defects, effectively allowing voters to select a new representative.

“Suhakam is of the view that the right to vote, as stated under Article 119 (1) of the Federal Constitution, forms the basis for the elected representative’s authority to be part of the governing apparatus.

“It is the rakyat’s choice that legitimises those who make up the government. Hence, if an elected representative decides to switch to a new party as he/she exercises the right to association, citizens should be allowed to automatically exercise their right to vote and choose a representative again.

“The right to form and join political parties and other associations related to public affairs is interrelated to these rights. Political parties are central to the exercise of citizens’ right to vote and conduct of public affairs, and the proper function of a democracy,’’ Suhakam argued.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Legal Affairs) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan previously said in Parliament that the government has no plans to enact any law to prevent elected representatives from defecting.

He said the government was of the view that this would be inconsistent with the constitutional right to freedom of association.

Related Articles