KUALA LUMPUR: Various Members of Parliament have called for a clear-cut law on anti-party hopping to be passed first before dealing with more complex issues like recall elections.

Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, a strong proponent for recall elections, said that due to time constraints, the Parliament should first enact a law that could deal with more straightforward cases of party hopping.

Pointing out that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the government and Pakatan Harapan was expiring in July, the Umno supreme council member said the 15th General Election was just around the corner.

“The bipartisan MOU is ending in July and many of us want to see some form of amendment to the Federal Constitution on anti-party hopping before the time is up.

“We can pass a law to handle straightforward cases of party hopping first but for other elements such as party expulsion, this can be discussed at a second stage,” said Azalina.

She was speaking during a conference on the proposed anti-party hopping law in Wisma Badan Peguam Malaysia here yesterday.

Party-hopping scenarios, said Azalina, could be divided into two – voluntary actions where a representative wilfully resigns or joins another party as well as involuntary cases where a representative is expelled by his or her party.

“In the situation where a representative is expelled, voters should have the final say if they get to remain or be replaced through a recall election,” said Azalina.

She said it was crucial that the anti-party hopping law be enacted before GE15 or voters might get disillusioned as their vote would be meaningless.

Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who was also at the conference, said recall election procedures were a wide-ranging matter and would require more time to deliberate.

“Let’s first enact the law that can prevent the more clear-cut instances of party hopping, and deal with subjects like recall elections later,” said Gobind, who is a member of the Parliament Special Select Committee on anti-party hopping with Azalina.

Subang Jaya MP Wong Chen said the process of drafting the anti-party hopping law was not easy and would take a lot of time so it was crucial that MPs took advantage of the bipartisan MOU agreement. “If you miss this window, the GE15 is held and the governing party wins more than 60% of the vote, you may not see this opportunity again to enact reforms,” said the PKR lawmaker.

The conference was organised by the Bar Council and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).

In her closing remarks, Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah said instances of elected representatives switching allegiances were a concern among the rakyat, causing many to become uninterested.

“This apathy has caused voters to feel their vote does not make a difference,” said Cheah.

“This is why the anti-party hopping law is important and the Malaysian Bar has consistently implored the government to enact it.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob previously said that the anti-party hopping law would be tabled in Parliament in July.