Time for an anti-hopping law to be made a reality

THE Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) supports the call to enact an anti-hopping law, so there may be a finality to the never-ending occurrence of Members of Parliament (MPs) and state legislative assembly representatives switching parties to suit their personal and political agendas.

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 self-determination, in terms of the right of all people to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development, is an inalienable right and fundamental principle of customary international law.

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 finds it unsettling to observe the rampant and unabashed movement and change of political allegiance from one party to another, following a proper and expensive democratic election process.

Suhakam recalls that freedom of association is well recognised under Article 20(1) of the UDHR which denotes the state’s obligation to not unduly obstruct the freedom of association.

Furthermore, freedom of association under Article 10(1) of the federal constitution guarantees citizens’ rights to form an association and to join, not to join and resign from any association.

This right, however, may be restricted to the extent reasonably necessary and proportionate.

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, while strengthening democracy and protecting the rights of its citizens.

MPs and assembly reps 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 conscious, determined effort to build people’s trust in the election and democratic process, failing which, will be to the nation’s detriment. – August 6, 2020.

* Statement from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

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