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KUCHING, May 7: Rise of Social Efforts (Rose) called on Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and other State government leaders to publicly disclose their stance on the anti-hopping law.
Rose said the Sarawak electorate has the right to know the State government’s intention toward the federal government’s desire to amend the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to standardise the anti-hopping provisions.
The association also questioned if the State government’s silence is an indication that they object to the adoption of the same law at the State level.
“If so, what is the State government’s basis or grounds for doing so? The public has the right to know.
“The public also has the right to know what improved form of anti-hopping law the State government prefers.
“Rose is of the view that the anti-hopping provisions to be applied to state assemblymen must be one that is much stronger than the present impotent Article 17(7)(a),” it said in a statement today.
Meanwhile, Rose welcomes the formation of the Special Parliamentary Select Committee (PSSC) by the Dewan Rakyat, which is tasked to deliberate, formulate, and fine-tune the design of an Anti-Hopping Law to prevent party-hopping among elected representatives.
It said the people want the resultant bill to be one that effectively deters defections and restores democratic political stability.
“This will ensure that voters’ mandates are respected by both lawmakers and political parties alike. Ultimately it should be a law that, when passed, restores confidence in our parliamentary democracy and elections by the general public, including an estimated 5.8 million new voters when GE15 (15th General Election) comes around,” it said.
According to Rose, PSSC has held three meetings since its formation and views the committee as competent in fulfilling its terms of reference.
In defining party-hopping in the Federal Constitution, Rose also believes that lawmakers must by law vacate their seats when they leave their political party, join a political party after being elected as an Independent, or are expelled by their party.
“Rose also believes that all those who vacate or lose their seats due to this anti-hopping law must be allowed to recontest in the subsequent by-election either as an Independent or under another party ticket.
“This way, if there is any change in affiliation by the elected representative post-election, voters get to decide who they believe will best represent their aspirations.
“Equally important, states should also adhere to the same anti-hopping law by amending their respective constitutions,” it added.
Rose further said they are also aware that the former State Attorney-General has said that Sarawak already has an anti-party hopping provision in its State Constitution.
“Article 17 (7) (Disqualification of Membership) was inserted by an amendment in 1994 clearly to get around the 1992 Supreme Court’s decision in the Nordin Salleh case,” it said.
It pointed out that this is an impotent and weak law to deter party-hopping as the obligation imposed on the elected representatives in the said provision is a voluntary one.
“Besides, how many of the current crops of recent newly elected assemblymen have given such an undertaking is anybody’s guess.
“There has been no public disclosure of such undertakings, and secrecy is antithetical to a good, working democracy,” it said. — DayakDaily