Penang sticks to its own anti-hopping guns, keeps stricter law


GEORGE TOWN: Penang will not mirror the latest Parliament's anti-hopping law.

The state is keeping to its stricter version of the anti-hopping law for its assemblymen.

This is because the Federal Court on Wednesday (Aug 3) unanimously held that Penang's anti-hopping law was constitutional.

"As such, there shall not be any sitting to amend Penang's state constitution," said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow in a statement on Friday (Aug 5).

Consequently, the fate of four Penang assemblymen who ended their support for the state's Pakatan Harapan government was now on the shoulders of the judiciary.

Chow said the state and those four assemblymen must soon appear before High Court, which would effectively decide if they must vacate their seats.

Penang's anti-hopping law, enacted in 2012, provides in Article 14A of the state's constitution that assemblymen must vacate their seats if, having been elected as candidates of political parties, they resign or are expelled from their parties; or having been elected otherwise than as candidates of political parties, they later join a political party.

Conversely, Parliament's anti-hopping law applicable to MPs is more lenient, exempting them from vacating their seats if their whole party changes allegiance, or if they were sacked from their previous parties and subsequently joined other parties.

Penang's anti-hopping law had no such exemptions so assemblymen who resigned or were sacked from their parties must vacate their seats, and independent assemblymen who later joined parties must also bow out of the assembly.

On July 29, Chow said the state was ready to amend its anti-hopping law to mirror the one passed in Parliament recently.

But he said the stance changed on Thursday (Aug 4) as it was no longer necessary following the Federal Court's decision.

Sandwiched between judiciary and executive powers, Dr Afif Bahardin, who was once the executive councillor in charge of agriculture, agro-based industry, rural development and health, posted a remark on Twitter on Friday (Aug 5):

"The fact that there was a call to hold a special sitting (of the assembly) proves that Penang's anti-hopping law in 2012 was flawed and undemocratic. No one jumped ship - the fact is that all four assemblymen were sacked as backbenchers by the state. No party-hopping," Dr Afif wrote.

Dr Afif (Seberang Jaya - PKR to Bersatu), Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sungai Acheh - PKR to Bersatu), Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam - Bersatu) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (Teluk Bahang - Bersatu) face a motion from Penang Assembly Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang to vacate their seats after ending their support for the state government.

Their legal challenges against the motion suffered a major setback after the Federal Court decided that Penang's strict anti-hopping law was constitutional.

Bersatu's Penang Armada (Youth) information chief Harris Idaham Rashid issued a statement on Friday (Aug 5), calling on Penang to mirror Parliament's version of the anti-hopping law and dismiss its move to remove Dr Afif, Zulkifli, Khaliq Mehtab and Zolkifly from the state assembly.

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Penang , Anti-Hopping Law , Chow Kon Yeow ,

   

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