Eschew ‘secrecy culture’ in drafting anti-hopping law, Bersih tells parliamentary committee


The parliamentary select committee was set up to draft the anti party-hopping Bill. — Bernama photo

KUCHING (April 26): The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the anti-party hopping law (AHL) should put an end to the ‘secrecy culture’ in law-making and involve the public, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) said.

The election watchdog said the PSC should not let it stand in the way of accountable, transparent and participative lawmaking; adding that the AHL must be made a success of mature multi-partisanship and not a failure that feeds inter-party blame games.

Urging the PSC to inform and involve the public so that the AHL Bill would meet public expectations, it said the PSC should not obstruct the public’s knowledge and participation by applying the Official Secrets Act (OSA) on all its businesses.

While the minutes of its internal meeting can be kept confidential, Bersih said the PSC should make public the dates and venues or platforms of meetings, key decisions, the evolving drafts of the bill and written and oral submissions made by stakeholders.

“Bersih calls upon the PSC to boldly end the ‘secrecy culture’ in lawmaking in Malaysia, which is a colonial relic that the public cannot be trusted to know and give their inputs on laws that affect them.

“It also smacks of elitist arrogance that ‘politicians and bureaucrats know best’, which has no place in the 21st Century, and contradicts the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ spirit,” it said in a statement.

Bersih said the parliamentary debate on April 11 had suggested that a key disagreement on the AHL was whether MPs expelled by their parties should also be expelled from parliament.

“The public must be informed on this pertinent question and the proposed remedies to ensure that the AHL would not be derailed, defective or destructive to parliamentary democracy.

“Bersih reminds the PSC that the AHL cannot be just drafted opaquely and rushed through the Parliament in June,” it said.

Bersih had issued the statement in response to news reports that discussions and findings that were presented to the PSC are protected under the OSA.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who heads the PSC, had said he was confident that the findings of the PSC would be ready in about a month.

He had also said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has the prerogative to determine which day the anti party-hopping Bill would be tabled in Parliament.

On April 11, the Dewan Rakyat passed a motion to set up the PSC to scrutinise the proposed Constitution (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2022 aimed at paving the way for the anti-hopping Bill to be tabled in Parliament.

The committee consists of 10 other MPs including from the Opposition members.