No OSA. Anti-Hopping Bill Deliberation Should Maximally Inform and Involve the Public — BERSIH

First published on BERSIH's Facebook page

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) urges the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on Anti-Hopping Law (AHL) to maximally inform and involve the public, so that the resultant bill would meet public expectation and necessary compromises would enjoy public support.

BERSIH calls upon the PSSC to not obstruct the public's knowledge and participation with applying the Official Secrets Act (OSA) on all its businesses [1]. Commonwealth democracies like UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada would not use laws like the OSA to restrict legislative deliberation, why should Malaysia?

While the minutes of its internal meeting can be kept confidential, the PSSC should make public of the following:

(a) the dates and venues/platforms of meetings held;
(b) key decisions of the meetings;
(c) the evolving drafts of the bill;
(d) written and oral submissions made by stakeholders.

BERSIH calls upon the PSSC 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.

BERSIH believes that the PSSC must have worked very hard for two weeks since its establishment on 11 April 2022. Unfortunately, the public knows nothing of its progress.

The April 11 parliamentary debate suggests that a key disagreement on the AHL is whether MPs expelled by their parties should also be expelled from the House.

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 PSSC that the AHL cannot be just drafted opaquely and rushed through the Parliament in June. The public expectation of the legislative process and quality has been raised by both the defects in the current draft and the commendable remedial steps taken by the Ismail Sabri Government and PH.

Referring the constitutional amendment bill to the PSSC after rigorous debate by 59 MPs on April 11 demonstrates the refreshing political wisdom of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi as the Minister in charge of Parliament and Law, and the MOU Steering Committee.

BERSIH encourages the PSSC to continue this bold journey to produce an AHL acceptable to all parties, and not to allow the old 'secrecy culture' standing in the way of accountable, transparent and participative lawmaking.
The AHL must be made a success of mature multi-partisanship, and not a failure that feeds inter-party blame-games in GE15 or beyond.

Released by,
The Steering Committee of BERSIH

[1] https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/04/20/anti-hopping-bill-discussions-findings-presented-to-psc-protected-under-osa-says-wan-junaidi

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