By Imran Ariff, Free Malaysia Today (8 March 2021)
PETALING JAYA: Subang MP Wong Chen has called for reforms to give opposition MPs a better deal, with more powers, as a means to prevent party hopping by dissatisfied parliamentarians.
Wong, who is with PKR, proposed four measures to deal with party hopping, a topic which has received new attention with several Johor assemblymen recently switching to PKR, and two MPs from PKR declaring support for the Muhyiddin Yassin government.
Speaking at a weekly online discussion session, Wong said that giving opposition MPs equal or better allocations than their government counterparts, and reserving Select Committee chairmanship for them, would reduce instances of corruption and empower them to remain with the opposition.
He said the ideal solution was to amend the Federal Constitution to prevent party hopping. But it would be “almost impossible to obtain the two-third majority needed”, while there were more feasible solutions requiring just a simple majority.
“Most party hoppers claim they are doing it for the benefit of the rakyat. They say rakyat don’t have money, they don’t get the required amount of community spending, so they are compelled to join the government,” Wong said.
“The solution is very simple, make sure that every single MP gets the same amount of resources and community spending.”
He cited Norway as an example where opposition members are given higher allocations, because government MPs are able to make special requests of their ministers, while oppositions MPs can’t. The increased allocation would level the playing field.
He said MPs should be banned from taking up positions in government companies, removing temptation from the opportunity to secure lucrative positions.
Instead, all MPs should be required to serve on select committees, which would give them the opportunity to receive extra allowances should they become chairperson or deputy chair.
He also advocated for compulsory audited asset declaration for all MPs, lamenting that the declaration done under PH was not done properly, as some people were able to declare low asset figures that were “ridiculous”.
“The moment somebody becomes an MP they should get an entry audit where they declare their assets, then professional auditors come in and verify them, and the auditor-general can investigate from time to time to make sure it’s correct,” he said.