Parliament passed the ‘anti-hopping’ bill on 28 July. What a milestone that was for Malaysian politics.
Anwar Ibrahim said he found it “funny” that those who supported the bill were those who had previously ‘hopped’.
Ironic, isn’t it, to know that the same politicians who hopped from pillar to post approved the bill. Perhaps they did not have much of a choice. Did they feel any sense of remorse or shame at what they had done and for causing such immense harm to the country and its people? I guess this is what they call ‘karma’.
There were 11 MPs who were absent. Why weren’t they in the House when this vote was being passed? Curious minds want to know.
According to Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, a minister in the Prime Minister’s department, there are still a few steps to be taken before the bill becomes law, which he expects to be effective by the first week of September.
The question now is, will all states enact the anti-hopping law before the coming general election? As this is a federal anti-hopping law, would this apply to Sabah and Sarawak?
There should be no questioning whether it should or should not be tabled in the East Malaysian states, and this especially applies to Sabah, where party-hopping or crossing the floor knows no bounds. The Sabah government must pass the anti-hopping law to prevent political instability again.
It is only when this bill comes into law and covers all the states, as well as Sabah and Sarawak, that we can give a small cheer for the first baby steps that Malaysia is making towards democracy. There is still a long way to go.
Political funding bill next?
The prime minister also said that there would be no new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to replace the current deal between the government and the opposition. The MoU that was signed between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the Ismail Sabri Yaakob administration last year was to support government bills towards key institutional reforms for the sake of political stability and economic recovery after the pandemic.
As the beating of the general election drums gets louder, the parties concerned will have to get cracking to pass the important remaining reforms before the current Parliament sitting ends this week. Parliament will only meet again on 26 October for the tabling of the 2023 Budget.
The PM also reportedly intends to able a political funding bill, which was not part of the MoU with PH. Presumably, this would limit the amount of money candidates can receive as ‘donations’ from whomever and wherever, local or foreign.
In May, the prime minister said a special cabinet committee on anti-corruption had agreed in principle to a political funding bill. The bill would regulate political financing to avoid the risk of corruption and abuse of power by politicians, which would negatively affect the country’s image.
This is just mind-boggling. Is the PM so naive not to realise that Malaysia’s image has already been tarnished by all the rampant corruption and abuse of power by its politicians that has been going on for years?
Will tabling such a bill make the slightest dent in the country’s image when the corruption and money laundering trials of Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi look like a never-ending saga? One just has to mention 1MDB and everybody knows the story.
Then there are the revelations of the Pandora Papers, where some big names in Malaysian political circles were named.
And just recently, the corruption trial of Zahid revealed that a company, Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB), had covertly channelled funds to several politicians.
Maybe these charges are not as well-known as 1MDB, but where does the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission stand in all this?
Azam Bakri, the MACC chief commissioner, has denounced Malaysia’s ranking on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index.
But then again, this could be because the MACC might find it difficult to investigate politicians for corruption if its own commissioner is also compromised.
So the PM and his cabinet should, maybe, look into all these corruption charges and clean up the mess instead of brushing it under the carpet before thinking of tabling a bill to limit the political donations a politician can receive.
The Malaysian public are quite savvy and not as dumb as some would like to think. They know that under the guise of ‘political donations’, many politicians use the money to make themselves and their families richer. So, the chances of having a law to curb all this may be just a pipedream.
The outcome of this bill by the PM is yet to be seen, but the anti-hopping bill is maybe a hopeful sign of things to come in Malaysian politics.
Will this add to voter confidence in the coming general elections? It’s hard to say, as it is early days yet. Hopefully, this bill will make MPs have some ethical standards and accountability, especially to the people who may vote for them.
But with the vagaries of Malaysian politics, I am not holding my breath!
jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time