Tougher laws needed to curb impractical by-elections, says analyst

03 Oct 2018 / 08:23 H.

PETALING JAYA: Tougher laws to make it harder for MPs to resign to trigger by-elections should be put in place but ultimately if the move for the by-election is politically motivated, laws and punishments will not be able to stop it from happening.
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng told theSun that not only do these "forced" by-elections cost millions of dollars in taxpayers' money, it is also a burden on the voter as a lot of man hours will be wasted to cast their votes again.
"Voters have to take time off work, thousands of man hours will be wasted, companies will suffer as they have to give their employees time off," he said.
Khoo said he is in support of strengthening the laws to make it harder for "forced" by-elections to happen but he said if there is massive political will for it to happen, it will.
"Yes, we can strengthen the laws. But if a candidate is compelled to step down he can do so on his own free will, this is a democracy," he said.
Khoo was referring to the Port Dickson by-election which was engineered through the resignation of PKR's Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, who stepped down to make way for PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
"Laws are already in place, he (Danyal) will not be able to contest for the next five years for stepping down but even if there is a monetary fine implemented, I am sure they will raise the funds to do whatever it takes, even if it is a million ringgit, to get their man (Anwar) in contention for the seat," he said.
He added that punishments will only be applicable to those vacating their seats, not to those running because they have every right to run for a vacant seat.
He said prevention of "forced" by-elections should be the responsibility of the party that proposed the candidate and that they should also make sure that candidates running are physically fit.
"We saw two deaths in the aftermath of the GE14, both were due to illnesses which triggered by-elections, the party has to make sure their candidates are physically fit before they put their names down," he said in reference to the Seri Setia and Sungai Kandis by-elections held recently after Seri Setia incumbent Prof Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin died of cancer and Sungai Kandis incumbent Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei also passed away due to lymphoma cancer.
He said ultimately, in a democracy, the voter has to make an informed decision as to who they want representing them in Parliament.
Earlier, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the law allows for "forced" by-elections to be called.
"Legislation allows an elected representative to step down and give way to others," he was quoted telling reporters at the end of his two-day visit to the UK.
He said that Anwar has followed the democratic process.

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