Monday, February 9, 2009

Anti- political hopping for elected representative

Party hopping or party switching or party defection, New Zealanders called it waka-jumping. It is the act by an elected representative to change from one political party affiliation to another between elections, especially his election to the office was through the current political party. One good example is the recent hopping of three Perak state assemblyman, hopping from the ruling party to support the "opposition front(but remained as independent)", causing the downfall of the state government. The hopping happen without the consent of the voters/people who voted them in office,this is the betray of the mandate of the people who voted them in. There is another name called Crossing the floor; in UK, Canada and other countries,the term is used to describe the act of leaving one's party entirely and joining another party, include leaving the opposition party to support government(or vice versa).

There are lobbyists and political parties now appealing for anti-hopping law,which is the law that prohibit MP elected representative to leave the party for which he/she was elected, and cross over to another party after elected. It also require MP or elected representative to leave his seat if he/she hopped to other party. Other opposed the anti-hopping law and stated that it is unconstitutional, it is against the basic human right of association.

Party switching should be allowable as an discrete action or process, which allow the elected person or members of the party to change party on their personal basis. No one will question an individual's legal right of association,he has his liberty to do so. But if he /she is an elected representative elected on party ticket. The party was elected, he is only representing the party. He was elected to the office by the people/voters based on party ticket, he is only a representative, an agent of the people who elected him because of the party. Under the basic law of agency, the principal is the people who elected him/her.Legally he or she as an agent, has breached the trust and legal authority that people,the principal has give to him/her, if he hopped to other party(or other camp that oppose the party who nominated him). This is breach of trust.The principal should be able to change the agent, which is not irrevocable.
Anti-hopping law is not against party switching, it is against elected representative hopping party for a personal motive,without resigning from the elected office. If he resign and vacate his/her office,he/she can always continue hopping, as now he/she is under no obligation to the party and the people who elected him/her.

In 1992, PAS state government took legal action against its member Nordin Salleh who has joined UMNO, based on the anti-hopping law earlier passed by the state. But the court decided that the law was null and void as it is against the constitution. In 1994, PBS(Parti Bersatu Sabah) also bought a legal action against mass defection, which caused the downfall of the PBS state government. The case also failed.

Roger Tan, an advocate and solicitor, wrote in his blog on 22-6-2008,; that anti-hopping law is vital for political stability of the nation. He said currently party hopping is not unlawful. He quoted Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution,which expressly states that all citizens have the right to form associations, that is, to join, not to join and leave any association, but Parliament may by law impose such restrictions as it deems necessary in the interest of the security of Malaysia or any part thereof, public order, morality, labour or education.

Mr Roger Tan also quoted a case in 1992. The Supreme Court (now Federal Court) had the opportunity to decide in the case of Dewan Undangan Negeri Kelantan v Nordin Salleh 1992 whether an amendment to the Kelantan state constitution which prohibits party-hopping is inconsistent with Article 10(1)(c). Article XXXIA of Part I of the Kelantan constitution provides that if any member of the Legislative Assembly who is a member of a political party resigns or is expelled from, or for any reasons whatsoever, ceases to be a member of such political party, he shall cease to be a member of the Legislative Assembly and his seat shall become vacant.

The Supreme Court declared that such a law was invalid because the restriction imposed by the Kelantan Constitution could not be a restriction imposed under clauses 2(c) and (3) of Article 10 as it was a law passed by a state legislature and not the Federal Parliament.

For further understand of legality and moral of party hopping, a visit to Mr Roger's web site will be helpful.

International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin , who is also the deputy president of UMNO on 30-1-2009 stated he supports the proposal for an “anti-hopping” law to ensure political stability in the country. He said that it is not that he fear more will leave Barisan Nasional, but what is important is the question of principle(source:

DAP Secretary general and Chief Minister of Penang, Mr Lim Guan Eng stated that
“If the Government is serious and advocates principles and ethics, it should introduce an anti-hopping law to allow those who defect to another party to resign and re-contest the same seat. Elected representatives who quit their seats should be allowed to contest the same seat in a by-election. Under Article 48(6) of the Constitution, a person who resigns his membership in the House of Representatives shall, for a period of five years beginning with the date on which his resignation takes effect, be disqualified from being a member of the House of Representatives.
(source: The star, 30-1-2009)

PAS Shah Alam MP En Khalid Samad also concurred with Mr Lim Guan Eng for anti-hopping law. He said that if the anti-hopping law were to be passed, the government must allow the public to express their "mandate" again.Khalid acknowledged that such a situation had happened before, to his brother Shahrir, who coincidentally is the BN MP for Johor Baru. In 1988, Shahrir resigned as MP for Johor Baru, in events leading up to a constitutional crisis and a split within Umno between the then Prime Minister and challenger Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Shahrir, who supported Tengku Razaleigh then, was challenged to prove he had won his parliamentary seat on his own abilities and not that of Umno's.He ran as an independent in the resulting by-election and won. (note: Hat off to En Shahrir,he is one of the UMNO minister I respected, and a firm believer of democracy).

DAP chairman Mr Kapal Singh on 1-2-2009 said his party had stood against party hopping since being formed in 1966. He called for amendment to Federal Constitution to make it illegal for MP to jump ship, as MP is voted by the people according to his party not individual. The MP represented the party and therefore has no right to cross over after being elected.In fact,he or she should quit the seat for a by-election,should be resign from the party he represented when he was elected. Mr Kapal consider the party hopping after elected as cheating offence, and disgrace to the country.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the time was ripe to amend the Federal Constitution for the enaction of the proposed Anti-Hop Law.“We have seen enough political instability in the past. It is time to give this proposal its due merit and approval.

“By having Anti-Hop Law provisions in the constitution, we would add another significant milestone in the stability of our social and political landscape,” he said in a statement today.

Pairin, who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president, said he would support “all those who are advocating to propose this amendment to the Federal and State constitutions(source: Malaysian Insider, 29-1-2009)
(note: Mr Pairin was a victim of political hopping, his state government collapsed due to political hopping, which changed the future of Sabah political situation,and from a Chief Minister,today he is only a deputy)

Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim
, former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim said on 22-3-2008, had proposed to the Cabinet for the formulation of the Anti-Hopping Law to put a stop to party-hopping by politicians.

He said the act of switching political parties by politicians after winning the general election on their former parties' tickets was immoral."We cannot allow people who contested on a particular party's ticket, make all kinds of promises to convince the people and after winning, they switched over to another party."To me, these people have no integrity and I hope the government can formulate a special law. It's high time that we have the `Anti-Hopping Law' to stop such acts," he told reporters at a press conference at his residence in Kota Baharu. He said although switching political party was not against the federal constitution, it had negative impact on the country's administration. En Mohd Zaid said he would propose that the matter be discussed at the Cabinet, adding that such a law had already been adopted in several countries including India.(source: Bernama, 22-3-2008). Note: But sad to say,the proposal had not been successful, and he has resigned from the cabinet.

MP Mr Lim Kit Siang had on 21-3-1978 proposed to seek leave of the House to introduce a private member’s bill instituted Members of Parliament [Prevention of Defection] Act 1978 to ensure political integrity of Members of Parliament. He said "Nothing disgusts the Malaysian public more than to see MPs or State Assemblymen elected on one party’s ticket and then betray the Party and the people’s trust by switching parties. This makes them very little different from con-men. Such practices debase politics, and strengthen the general impression that ‘politics is dirty’, when it is the dirty people who get into politics to make politics dirty. The defection of MPs or State Assemblymen from parties on whose ticket they got elected is most undesirable and unethical, because they are elected not because of their personal qualities, but because of the Party they represent. Such practices also permit elected politicians to be bought and sold as if they are on the market place.

If an elected MP resigns or is expelled from the Party on whose ticket he was originally elected, then he should resign his seat and cause a by-election to be held. If the resignation and expulsion is over a matter of political principle which has the support of the people, then the MP or State Assemblymen concerned should have no qualms about getting re-elected.(sourcce:

: In 1961, 19 left-wing assemblymen of the People’s Action Party resigned and formed the Barisan Sosialist, almost bringing down the government.
A new law was enacted by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew not too long later forbidding assemblymen from joining another party without first vacating their seats and a by-election be held to fill them.
Since then, Singapore has enjoyed almost 5 decades of political stability bereft of the endless politickering and infighting which have grown to become a scourge of Malaysian politics.(source: by Lim Siow Kuan)

New Zealand: New Zealand attempt to combat party hopping by having Mixed Member Proportional voting system or MMP in 1996 general election. Voters get 2 votes under MMP system. One to elect candidate they wish to see elected to represent their local electoral district(constituency vote); and another to their preferred political party(party vote). The candidate who received the most constituency votes will be elected.But once all the constituency MP was identified and elected, additional seats are then distributed to each political parties so that total number of seats held by each party is proportionate to its total,nationwide share of the party votes. For example,a part who gained 10% of the party votes across the country is entitled to 10% of the total seats(party listed seats), regardless of constituency votes. The system is fair distribution of elected seats based on degree of support it attract for the party. The final distribution of the seats will based entirely on the nationwide share of the party votes received by each political party, not upon the constituency votes,which is personal or candidate based. So even the elected candidate hopped, the majority political party still control the seats based on the party votes. The candidates who filled the party list are drawn from the closed list.
So,you can jump, but since this is party seat, the party can always replace another candidate from the same party, what is the use of jumping?

Brazil: There is a good news from Brazil;a supreme court decision on anti-hopping:-

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 5 (IPS) - A Brazilian Supreme Court decision that legislators cannot switch parties during their term in office - a common practice in Brazil - will pave the way for a newfound political stability, as well as a reduction in the number of parties, say analysts.

By a vote of eight to three, the Supreme Court decided late Thursday that mandates belong to political parties, not individual legislators.

Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello stated in the ruling that the practice is an "inadmissible abuse" of the democratic system and exercise of power.

"The change of allegiance without a reason hurts the representativity of parties, is disrespectful of the electorate’s votes, and is harmful to the model of proportional representation," according to the magistrate.

Observers described the ruling as "historic."

He said that legislators will now only be allowed to change their party affiliation under certain circumstances, such as when a party changes its ideological focus.

"Voters will now know that when they vote for candidates, they will have to remain in the parties for which they were elected," said political analyst Andre Pereira.

(extract from source: www.

Another interesting article on anti-hopping, Teach party hoppers a good lesson by policy analyst, N V Krishnakumar is a good read. You can find the article on

Party hopping of elected representative is an issue of law, let the judicial decide in the court on the validity of the state government when party hopping caused the change in controlling power(like the case in Brazil). Let us put a stop to political Toad , and avoid any future political hopping of elected representative without revert to people for further mandate. All Malaysian be awake and exercise wisely in the next election..... Life will not be beautiful with the political hopping, the political stability, the country and people suffered. The country has more urgent issues to handle.

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