Justice minister confident of majority vote for anti-hopping law

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PUTRAJAYA: Any MP who resigns from his party or switches to another party will immediately have to vacate his seat with a by-election to be held within 60 days.

However, the Member who has lost his seat may stand in the by-election.

MPs expelled from their party will not lose their seats.

These are part of the content of the proposed anti-hopping law that could be tabled in Dewan Rakyat as early as mid-June, said Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The Federal Constitution will be amended to this effect, the Minister told the Prime Minister.

“The anti-party jumping law will be passed through constitutional amendments without the need for separate laws,” he told a news conference yesterday.

Among the amendments, he said, were Article 10 on freedom of association.

A new section 49A will also be introduced, he added, in which an “occasional vacancy” would occur if an MP changes party, resigns from their party or if an elected independent MP joins a party.

“The 60-day period to hold the by-election will be triggered from the date the President of Dewan Rakyat receives the vacancy notice.

“However, the president must verify within 20 days whether a party of MPs has jumped, before a seat is officially declared vacant,” he said.

He added that the proposed law would apply only to deputies and not to elected members of the National Assembly.

Wan Junaidi said the MP would still be allowed to run in the by-election because “if the voters believe the MP deserves to be their representative, they have the right to re-elect them.

“The spirit of the anti-party-hopping law is that the people have the mandate to choose who represents them.”

If a parliamentary party jumps three years after the legislature, there will be no by-election according to the laws in force, but the representative will still lose the seat.

He explained that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSSC) believed that if an MP was sacked from a party, it would be unfair to define it as a party jump.

“The proposed anti-hopping law is federal law, but states must pass it before it can apply to elected state officials.

“Once the anti-hopping law is passed, the king will have to take up the issue with state leaders and governors to change their laws,” he added.

Currently, only Kelantan, Penang, Sarawak and Sabah have their own party laws. However, the state laws are ineffective because Article 10, which guarantees freedom of association, is still in effect.

Asked when the proposed amendments to the constitution would be tabled in Dewan Rakyat, Wan Junaidi said it could be done as early as mid-June if a special one-day parliamentary session was held for that purpose.

He said the PSSC favored a one-day session but it would be up to the Prime Minister to decide the date. The next meeting of Parliament is scheduled for July 18 to August 4.

If all goes well, Wan Junaidi said the bill could be passed and implemented as early as September this year or January next year.

When asked if the government would be able to secure the required two-thirds majority or 148 votes out of Dewan Rakyat’s current 220 seats to amend the Constitution, he said he was confident it could be done.

“So far, I have yet to meet an MP who is against it,” he said.

Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin left the Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Party to join the Bangsa Malaysia Party yesterday.

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