The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) urges the parliamentary special select committee on an “anti-hopping” law to maximally inform and involve the public so that the resultant bill would meet public expectation and necessary compromises would enjoy public support.
Bersih calls upon the special select committee to not obstruct the public’s knowledge and participation by applying the Official Secrets Act (OSA) on all its businesses. Commonwealth democracies like the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada would not use laws like the OSA to restrict legislative deliberation, so why should Malaysia?
While the minutes of its internal meeting can be kept confidential, the special select committee should make public the following:
- the dates and venues/platforms of meetings held
- key decisions of the meetings
- the evolving drafts of the bill
- written and oral submissions made by stakeholders
Bersih calls upon the special select committee to boldly end the ‘secrecy culture’ in law-making in Malaysia, which is a colonial relic that the public cannot be trusted to know and give their input on laws that affect them.
It also smacks of elitist arrogance that ‘politicians and bureaucrats know best’, which has no place in the 21st Century and contradicts the “keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysian family) spirit.
Bersih believes the special select committee must have worked very hard for two weeks since its establishment on 11 April 2022. Unfortunately, the public knows nothing of its progress.
The 11 April parliamentary debate suggests that a key disagreement on the anti-hopping law (to curb defections) is whether MPs expelled by their parties should also be expelled from the House.
The public must be informed on this pertinent question and the proposed remedies to ensure that the anti-hopping law would not be derailed, defective or destructive to parliamentary democracy.
Bersih reminds the special select committee that the anti-hopping law cannot be just drafted opaquely and rushed through Parliament in June. The public expectation of the legislative process and quality has been raised by both the defects in the current draft and the commendable remedial steps taken by the Ismail Sabri Yaakob government and Pakatan Harapan.
Referring the constitutional amendment bill to the special select committee after rigorous debate by 59 MPs on 11 April demonstrates the refreshing political wisdom of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar as the Minister in charge of Parliament and law, and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) steering committee.
Bersih encourages the special select committee to continue this bold journey to produce an anti-hopping law acceptable to all parties, and not to allow the old ‘secrecy culture’ to stand in the way of accountable, transparent and participative law-making.
The anti-hopping law must be made a success of mature multi-partisanship, and not a failure that feeds inter-party blame-games in the upcoming general election or beyond. – Bersih