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It is time Malaysia implements recall elections to address the issue of party-hopping among elected representatives. This was the general sentiment at a webinar themed "Recall Elections: A Solution to Party-Hopping in Malaysia?"
This morning's webinar, which included Umno and DAP politicians, delved into recall elections, a system that allows voters in a constituency to remove their elected representative before the end of his or her term.
According to political scientist Wong Chin Huat, who gave the keynote speech, a recall election would allow registered voters who are dissatisfied with their incumbent representative to petition for his or her removal.
Thus, the voters would be given some immediate power over misbehaving representatives instead of having to wait for another few years before an election is called to vote again.
Chin Huat said politicians crossing the floor, or party-hopping, is actually a part of democracy. Some politicians do it on genuine political principles but some do it for their own personal interest which is a problem for the country, he said.
"It (a recall election) serves multiple purposes. We can also sack lawmakers if they break the law. Under the current rule, a lawmaker only loses his or her seat if they get sentenced to a year's imprisonment or a RM2,000 fine which means a lawmaker can get away if the judge decides to be lenient.
"A lawmaker can also be sacked if he or she is absent from the august House for six months but if the speaker grants leave, he or she can still get away with it.
"(With recall elections), we can actually put some limitations where voters will have some power to punish their incumbent lawmakers," he said.
Onboard with reforms
The idea was well-received by other panellists including Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan.
"We might have to debate the circumstances where a recall election may be triggered and the threshold (of registered voters to trigger the election).
"But in terms of the idea, we are fully onboard," he said.
Shahril said recall elections should be one of the issues that Umno champions if it wants to be a party for the future.Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan
Umno supreme council member Abdul Rahman Dahlan agreed, saying that his party should make recall elections a part of BN's manifesto for the next general election.
"The party president has asked vice-president Khaled Nordin to spearhead manifesto discussions. I will speak to Khaled [...] some of the reforms must be in the manifesto.
"My party is not known for talking about reforms. But we should dabble in it, not only recall elections but also other reforms.
"Whichever party that presents whatever reform would have some advantage (in the general election). I believe it should be on the manifesto," Rahman said.