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Party hopping immoral, says Law expert
Published on: Sunday, September 15, 2019
By: Sherell Jeffrey
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KOTA KINABALU: There is no law against party-hopping. But sadly the majority in the Dewan Rakyat can disappear because of party-hopping, said constitutional law expert, Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.

He was among panel speakers invited to talk at the Forum Hari Malaysia 2019 titled “56 Tahun Malaysia: Ke Arah Masa Hadapan” organised by Upko’s Legislative Bureau here, Saturday. 

At one point during his talk, he jested that when it comes to party hopping some states have better hoppers than others. 

“(in) the next Asian Games, they should send some people from Sabah or from Perak or Kelantan. Maybe they could win us some medals in hop, step and jump,” he said drawing laughter and claps from the audience. 

On a more serious note, he expressed his personal view citing the case of Dewan Undangan Negeri Kelantan v Nordin Salleh and Tun Datu Haji Mustapha v Legislative Assembly of Sabah.

“The Federal Court in my personal view in a very political judgement said that party hopping is part of freedom of association. 

“You can associate, you can disassociate, you can re-associate, the Federal Court conveniently forgot that the right to freedom of association is subject to morality,” he said. 

He stressed that morality does not only mean sex morality, morality can also mean political morality.

He said it is on the grounds of political morality that many countries like India the legislation has enacted the law that if you hop, which you have the right to, you must resign from your seat, go back to the rakyat and say ‘yesterday I was wearing a songkok, now I am wearing a turban, please vote me back to power’.

“I think that’s the way it should be that you go back to the rakyat and say I have changed my values, I have changed my loyalty please vote me back,” he said. 

The Barisan Nasional government challenged the Anti-Hop Law that was introduced in 1987 by the then PBS State Government in court and had it scrapped. This eventually led to the downfall of the PBS State Government as the PBS election winners joined Barisan Nasional parties.

During the question and answer slot, he apologised if he sounded too one sided when responding to a question from the floor  asking if he would be able to find a deep recess in his heart that there may be advantages in allowing YBs to switch allegiance after an election given Sabah’s unique circumstances. 

“I fully acknowledge that sometimes party hopping or crossing the floor is based on ideals, based on disillusionment with the leadership or with the direction the party is taking,” he said. 

Citing among more famous example of that is Sir Winston Churchill some time during the turmoil in the 40s, 50s, he (Churchill) switched from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party and then switched again. 

“I think sometimes people do change floor because they can’t stand the direction their party is taking. However let’s also look at the other side of the story,” he said, citing one Member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly in India who crossed the floor four times in five years. 

“His name was Ram, so there was a saying ‘Mr Ram is coming, Mr Ram is going’, that was what happened,” he said.

 

He said in Sabah, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan won a handsome majority around 1993 or 1994 and within 15 days the majority evaporated somewhere and he (Kitingan) was left with a small number and, therefore, not able to form the government.  

“In Perak, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was the Menteri Besar, there were a few assemblymen some of them were facing prosecution for corruption , but then of course , after they switched, mysteriously the prosecution collapsed. There was no prosecution.”

He said party hopping sometimes is due to massive money politics, it causes the fall of an elected government, it causes a general election or state election, it costs millions of Ringgit and it leads to instability.

“I think you have got to look at both sides of the story, neither side is entirely good or entirely bad, so my humble suggestion would be people should have a right to associate, disassociate and re-associate.

“I agree with that, that’s a constitutional right. But then it should not involve all this consequences that I outlined. I think you should go back to the Rakyat and you should seek a new mandate.” 

He said in some countries, what happen is if one had switched camps, then for the next so many years they prescribe, they cannot hold an executive position.

“Because you switch out of idealism now let’s see your idealism, you should not be holding an executive post because that is what happens, people switch camps and they are rewarded with a portfolio.

“I think we have got to balance the pluses and the minuses but I acknowledge your view in the recesses of my heart I do acknowledge that once in a while it may be a case of genuine ideological conviction,” he said. 

 



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