Minister: Anti-hopping law to depend on Penang’s action

KUALA LUMPUR: The introduction of any anti-hopping law will be dependent on how the Penang state government deals with the four assemblymen who switched parties, says Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan.

Takiyuddin said many lawmakers have raised the need for an anti-hopping law in Malaysia but such legislation may contradict Article 10 (1)(c) of the Federal Constitution which guarantees the freedom of association.

Takiyuddin also said that the decision of the Supreme Court on a case in Kelantan in 1992 also stands in the way.

In the Kelantan State Assembly versus Nordin Salleh case, the Supreme Court had decided that an amendment to the state’s constitution which prohibited party-hopping, was inconsistent with the Federal Constitution.

Takiyuddin said that the Supreme Court’s decision was that party-hopping was not wrong.

“I would like to suggest that Penang, which is governed by the Opposition, has amended its state constitution.

“As such, if the Opposition wants anti-hopping laws, Penang should ask the assemblymen who left their parties to vacate their seats.

“If the Opposition wants our country to have an anti-hopping law, I would like to suggest that Penang take action against these assemblymen... if they bring the case to court, let the court decide.

“If the court decides differently (from the Nordin Salleh case), then the government will study or consider (introducing an anti-hopping law),” Takiyuddin said during the Royal Address debate in Parliament yesterday.

Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) had interjected and said that perhaps the government should consider amending the Federal Constitution to enable the introduction of anti-hopping laws.

“If we can amend the Constitution to allow the voting age to be lowered from 21 to 18 years old , why can’t we do the same for this?”

Takiyuddin said Pakatan Harapan too had said it will not introduce anti-hopping laws when it was in government.

Quoting former Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Takiyuddin said Pakatan had no plans to amend legislation for anti-hopping laws.

Takiyuddin stressed that regardless of the party that governed, be it Perikatan Nasional or Pakatan, the nation is administered based on laws and the Federal Constitution.

“Article 10 (1) (c) guarantees the freedom of association, so we need to amend this to say otherwise. Only then will it not contradict the Federal Constitution.

“Only then can we come up with a new law so that when any (elected representative) hops to another party, the said individual must resign from the post.

“Until then, let’s find other ways,” he said.

Penang’s Bertam assemblyman Khaliq Medtab Mohd Ishaq, and Teluk Bahang assemblyman Zolkifly Md Lazim, both from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, had won their seats in 2018 when the party was part of Pakatan.

But after Bersatu split into two factions and Pakatan lost Federal power, the duo had first declared that they would stand with the Pakatan state government.

The duo had recently accepted posts in federal government agencies, which led to the state government stripping them of privileges and allocations as government backbenchers.

Another assemblyman, Seberang Jaya’s Dr Afif Bahardin, was suspended by PKR.

Sungai Acheh assemblyman Zulkifli Ibrahim, who was sacked by PKR, announced last month that he plans to join one of the Perikatan parties.

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