By Karen Bong
KUCHING, July 27: Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen raised that the anti-hopping law, if passed, must be uniformly implemented and coordinated nationwide, especially in Sarawak, to prevent party hopping within a political coalition like Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).
Fully supportive of the Anti-Hopping Bill tabled in the Dewan Rakyat today, Chong however questioned if Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar will push the anti-hopping agenda in Sarawak given that the political situation in Sarawak is different, where GPS controls the majority in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN).
“So if there are members hopping from party to party (within the GPS coalition), it would not cause the change of government (in Sarawak). But party hopping within the GPS coalition does happen.
“If this Bill is passed and implemented in Sarawak, can SUPP members (for example) jump to PBB? Will they (party hoppers) need to vacate their seats?” he asked when debating the Constitution (Amendment) Bill (No.3) 2022 or Anti-Hopping Bill in the Dewan Rakyat Sitting today which was broadcast live through the Parliamen Malaysia YouTube Channel.
If the anti-hopping law is not extended to all states, Chong pointed out that it will compromise the integrity and respect for the DUN institution.
Anti-hopping, he emphasised, was one of the main terms in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the government.
“This is a first major step to institutional reform and I believe YB Santubong (Wan Junaidi) has many suggestions to bring reform to not only Parliament but the democratic system of the country,” he said.
Chong claimed that in the beginning, the people doubted the sincerity of the government in fulfilling the promises in the MOU because people have lost their trust and confidence not only in politicians but also the Parliamentary institution and democracy of the country following the ‘Sheraton Move’.
“People are questioning what is the point of voting to choose an elected representative who can profit by jumping from party to party.
“The position of a Member of Parliament (MP) becomes a commodity for trading like meat and chicken in the market that can be bargained.
“Chicken is expensive in the market but political ‘katak’ (frog) is even more expensive. This has made people unwilling to go out and vote. As such, this Bill being tabled today is very meaningful to restore our dignity and democratic system,” he stressed.
Praising Wan Junaidi for his determination in pushing for the Bill, Chong called on all to work together to bring more reforms to leave a legacy for future generations.
Aware that the process to get the drafted Bill into Dewan Rakyat today faced a lot of obstacles especially from certain groups in Umno who were unsupportive, he advised: “If you do the right thing, you will find more friends in PH than in Umno.”
Sharing his views on whether party hopping should be made a criminal offence as there was no provision on legal action on party hoppers in the bill, Chong said at prima facie, it is wrong.
“But I feel that it is better to return to the people for a vote to make the decision. I fully support a by-election to be conducted as our position comes from the people. Let them decide again. With that, a criminal penalty need not be imposed,” he added. — DayakDaily