KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government told Parliament yesterday that it does not plan to table laws that would prevent elected officials from party “hopping”.
The ruling coalition, which came into power on the back of defections by MPs from the previous government, suggested such laws would be unconstitutional.
“At this stage, the government is of the view that the rights to association for every citizen is still guaranteed in the Constitution,” de facto law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said in a written reply to Ramkarpal Singh, Pakatan Harapan MP for Bukit Gelugor.
“On the rights to association, it was heard and decided by the Federal Court (before).”
The political crisis that ended PH rule in March has reinvigorated calls for laws to punish defectors. Critics of the PN government in particular said defections are undemocratic, and that it had enabled the power grab that helped install PN as the new government.
Among those who defected to trigger the change in government include Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and his group of MPs from PKR, followed by several others in the months since.
But Takiyuddin suggested that the ruling coalition may not necessarily be against the idea.
In his reply to Ramkarpal, the law minister said the government may table an anti-defection law in the future, but only if it “feels” there is a “need” to.
“However, if the government feels there is a need to formulate an anti-hopping law in future, definitely we will study the matter thoroughly, including comparing it with the best practices of other countries,” Takiyuddin said.
Ramkarpal in his question had said an “anti-hopping” law could curb political instability.
The idea had been mooted since the first Mahathir administration, but was rejected on the same grounds.
Last month, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah had also mooted an anti-hopping law to put a stop to the never-ending debate on the legitimacy of PN.
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