Ramkarpal: Time to Make Party-Hopping Illegal

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DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh said there should be laws against party-hopping by elected representatives, adding to the party’s disagreement over any move to accept defecting Umno MPs into PPBM, the DAP’s ally in Pakatan Harapan.

The Bukit Gelugor MP called for an amendment to the Federal Constitution making it illegal for elected representatives to switch parties.

Ramkarpal said reports of “impending crossovers” were not going well with the people.

“There is a general dissatisfaction on the ground. The obvious complaint is the betrayal of voters’ trust,” he said, adding that voters chose their representative due to party affiliations and not in one’s personal capacity.

He said party-hopping was not justified.

Asked if he would consider a private members’ bill to amend the constitution, Ramkarpal said it was something being discussed with DAP leaders.

He agreed that obtaining a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament to have the constitution amended was the main hurdle.

PH, with 119 MPs, does not have two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat. If support from its allies in Sabah is taken into account, the coalition needs about 20 more on its side before it can amend the constitution.

Ramkarpal said despite Penang having its own anti-hopping law enacted by the state assembly in 2012, it was rendered unconstitutional.

“Unfortunately, at this point of time, the Federal Constitution provides the right to freedom of association, which allows politicians to move to parties they liked.

“So while we say hopping is deplorable and should be outlawed, the constitution needs to be amended first,” he said.

Ramkarpal questioned ex-Umno MPs, saying they were “lazy” for not wanting to complete a five-year mandate in the opposition.

“Of course they have a choice, which is to finish your five-year term, then join the other side once you are accepted by them. That is fair and the voters then can decide,” he said.

Meanwhile, constitutional expert Gurdial Singh Nijar cited a previous court case involving a politician who jumped ship.

Speaking to FMT, he said the 1992 Federal Court decision involving a Kelantan state assemblyman had made party-hopping legal.

As such, he said Penang’s anti-hopping law was unconstitutional.

The 1992 case revolves around PAS’ own anti-hopping rule. Nordin Salleh, a PAS rep, was sued by the state government for crossing over to Umno.

But the court ruled Nordin had freedom of association under Article 10 of the Constitution.

An academic had agreed with Gurdial’s stance that banning a person from switching parties was unconstitutional.

Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said anti-hopping laws were not needed, adding that the real problem was about “integrity and moral politics”.

He said voters were smart enough to judge if a crossover was a betrayal or would work in their favour.

On Oct 17, de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said the government would not introduce any anti-party hopping law. – FMT