The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) welcomes the decision of the government and Pakatan Harapan to refer the vote on a constitutional amendment on Article 10(3)(a) to a parliamentary special select committee on ‘anti-hopping’ bills.
This should have been the correct due process in the first place when it comes to any legislative amendments or new bills, let alone a constitutional amendment that affects our fundamental liberty to freedom of association.
Bersih calls on this parliamentary special select committee to engage with as many stakeholders as possible so that there is breadth and depth in the engagement. We hope that legal experts from academia as well as civil society will be consulted so that all angles are explored and the best solutions are considered before amendments to the Federal Constitution are made or a bill tabled.
Bersih also calls on the special select committee to broadcast live its proceedings so that the whole process is transparent. It will be a model of how such a committee should operate, and it will showcase how parliamentary democracy should function.
The terms of reference of this committee are limited to defining what constitutes party-hopping, to deciding whether Article 48(6) and other laws should be abolished or amended, and to preparing a statement which will contain proposals on the anti-hopping bills.
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Bersih proposes that the terms be expanded to include other substantial factors that contribute to party-hopping, namely, unequal constituency development funds, appointments to governement-linked companies, selective investigation by agencies like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Inland Revenue Board, and perceived selective prosecution by the attorney general.
Bersih also supports the call of the MPs for Teluk Intan and Bukit Gelugor for the law minister to announce the date for the special parliamentary sitting to table and vote on the anti-hopping bills. This would give certainty to the passing of this much needed legislation to curb the kind of party-hoppings that have plagued this country these past four years.
Bersih is heartened by the healthy and robust debates from 59 MPs from all parties who spoke in support of the anti-hopping legislation. Very relevant and pertinent points were made and sincere concerns raised.
The critical view points of civil society actors, lawyers and meticulous MPs who pointed out the blind spots in the original amendment have led to this positive process. It’s a triumph for freedom of expression, thoughts and ideas. – Bersih