JOHOR BARU, July 29 — Bait Al-Amanah chairman and Umno veteran Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad said any enactment of recall election laws against party hopping must start at the parliamentary stage or national level first.
He added that such a move would be more significant for the political parties involved.
“At the parliamentary level, recall election laws against party hopping require the cooperation and understanding of all political parties.
“We need the various political parties to look into the issue of party hopping.
“The changes that we want to see would then be easier to accept at the state level,” said Shahrir during a Facebook Live forum today by election watchdog Bersih 2.0.
The forum ‘Enactment of Recall Election Laws on State level Elected Representatives’ was moderated by Bersih 2.0’s Debbie Chow.
The session also saw the participation of DAP’s Ketari assemblyman Young Syefura Othman, PKR’s Bukit Batu assemblyman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse, political scientist Prof Wong Chin Huat and human rights lawyer Edmund Bon.
Shahrir, who has been keen for Umno to adopt recall elections, gave the example of the ‘Sheraton Move’ where it started at the parliamentary level and later moved onto the states.
He also said political parties must take the issue of lompat katak (political party hopping) seriously.
“Since we have a period of transition, such discussions can build consensus for the time being.
“It is important to build consensus and discussions for political parties that want to see changes,” said Shahrir.
Shahrir pointed out that so far, the courts were the only recourse for those unhappy with their elected representatives who have switched political allegiances.
He said the introduction of recall elections would be a timely move as voters have a right to choose their elected representatives.
On Johor adopting laws against party hopping, Puah said it is possible to amend state laws to allow the recall election system.
“Sadly, I represent Pakatan Harapan (PH) and we don’t have the two-thirds majority to change anything at present.
“But if we can agree with Barisan Nasional (BN) on this, we can have a majority say, but it won’t be easy as such amendments would require the endorsement of the Johor palace as well,” he said.
A recall election is a system that allows voters in a constituency to remove their elected representative before the end of their term. It is a system widely used in the United States, the British Columbia region in Canada, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Switzerland and Ukraine.
Proponents of recall elections say an elected representative who changes parties after an election should have to get a new mandate from his or her voters to prove that they support the switch.
The process, which is provided for in several countries, has been proposed numerous times since the PH federal government fell in February when MPs from Bersatu and PKR quit the coalition during the ‘Sheraton Move’.