Bersatu Defections Prove Anti Hopping Law Is A Joke





There are no two ways about it. Bersatu MPs declaring support for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim - ostensibly to secure constituency funds - is an act of defection, even if those lawmakers say they remain loyal to Bersatu.
Not just that, these are defections that expose how faulty the anti-hopping provisions in the Federal Constitution are and make a mockery of them.
This is because, as per the anti-hopping law, as long as the Bersatu MPs supporting Anwar don’t quit their party or join another one, both Bersatu and those who voted these lawmakers into office have absolutely no means for recourse.
Further, the defections also highlight how placing the onus on the opposition to negotiate a deal for equal funding instead of the government giving it outright, leads to democracy being undermined.
But all this can be fixed, and there is no better time than now to fix it.
The government now essentially has more than a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat, and Bersatu - as well as Perikatan Nasional by extension - would also be motivated to support legislation that would spare them from having to deal with losing MPs.
The answer is truly simple - albeit will only take effect in the next general election.
Overhaul the entire election system.
Specifically, Malaysia should switch to an election system that contains at least both a party list and proportional representation.
The party list system addresses and eliminates the problem of party hopping and by-elections entirely, while proportional representation ensures fair representation, as well as addresses gerrymandering.
In a party list system, voters vote for a party - not individual candidates - and lawmakers will be selected from a list prepared by the party.
If an MP then defects or passes away, they will simply be replaced by the next person on the list.
No fuss, no muss, no traitors in Parliament, and no by-elections to deal with.
Gerrymandering
As for proportional representation, this eliminates the need for individual seats to be carved out, which eliminates the problem of gerrymandering.
Instead, each state is allocated several Parliament or state seats, which parties will then vie for.
In a simplistic implementation, the seats will then be divided based on the percentage of votes each party gets.
This addresses the problem under the current first-past-the-post system, in which a party can win a seat even if it has less than 50 percent of votes in a multi-cornered contest.
READ MORE: More seats for Madani pact in PN states if different election system used
The party list and proportional representation systems can be supplemented by traditional-style elections for a limited number of seats, which allows voters to elect candidates instead of parties.
Such a system is being practised in Germany.
Another much-needed legislation for Malaysia is fixed-term elections - which means elections are held on the same date every election year.
This would mean we no longer have to deal with the uncertainty of when elections will be held or the problem of having separate state and federal elections.
The government can fix democracy for Malaysia. It is only now a matter of whether it wants to do it or not. - Mkini
ZIKRI KAMARULZAMAN is a member of the Malaysiakini team.


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