In recent months, Malaysia has undergone a series of political upheavals that have given rise to much concern among the rakyat. In light of these circumstances, the Malaysian Bar calls on the government to consider enacting anti-hopping legislation during the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sittings to prevent lawmakers from switching parties.
The Malaysian Bar takes the view that there is no prohibition for Parliament to legislate anti-hopping laws at the federal level, despite the 1992 apex court ruling of Dewan Undangan Negeri Kelantan & Anor v Nordin bin Salleh & Anor.
Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution provides that every citizen has the right to freedom of association.
However, it is also enshrined in our Federal Constitution under Article 10(2) that Parliament may by law impose restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the federation or any part thereof, public order or morality.
We are of the opinion that changing parties after being voted in by the rakyat constitutes betrayal of the trust vested in them. Such behaviour is politically unethical and should be avoided to preserve the democratic structure of our nation.
Anti-defection laws are very much imperative to enhance political stability and public confidence in the democratic process, as well as not to undermine the decision made by the electorate.
Crossing the floor in the state assembly or Federal Parliament should be made unlawful to preserve the rule of law and constitutional integrity.
Salim Bashir is president of the Malaysian Bar
This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.