Penang govt requests High Court to expedite trial date for four assemblymen

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has requested the High Court here to expedite the trial date for four assemblymen who withdrew support for the state government in 2020.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the case had been referred to the Penang High Court for a decision, whereby any ruling made by the court would be part of the process of declaring the affected seats to be vacant.

"In any case, based on the unanimous decision of the Federal Court, Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution is valid, constitutional and should remain as it is.

"Therefore, we request the court to set a trial date soon. We also want to know the court's decision regarding this issue after the Federal Court’s ruling.

"Hence, any special sitting (of Penang State Assembly) will have to wait for the court decision," he told reporters after officiating the Penang Signature Gold & Jewellery Fairs (PSC) 2020 at the Setia Spice Convention Centre here on Friday (Aug 19).

He said this when asked to comment on DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng’s suggestion for the Penang State Assembly to hold a special meeting soon to amend the state constitution and bring it in line with the Federal Constitution, after the Federal law to prevent members of Parliament (MPs) from switching parties is given royal assent and gazetted.

On Thursday (Aug 18), Lim was reported to have said that this will enable the anti-party hopping provision to come into effect in time for state assembly seats in Penang when the general election is held and allow the state assembly to amend the state constitution by including a provision prohibiting elected representatives from changing parties, in line with the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution as approved in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara.

Article 14A of the state constitution stipulates that a state assemblyman shall vacate his seat if, having been elected as a candidate of a political party, he resigns or is expelled from the party; or having been elected otherwise than as a candidate of a political party, he joins a political party.

In 2020, the four assemblymen - Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sungai Acheh), Afif Bahardin (Seberang Jaya), Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (Telok Bahang) - had filed three originating summons (OS) against the Penang State Assembly and State Assembly Speaker to challenge the constitutionality of Article 14A(1) of the Penang State Constitution, and to stop the four seats concerned from being declared vacant, pursuant to Article 14A(1).

The Penang State Assembly and Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang then posed a legal question to the Federal Court on whether Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution is void for being inconsistent with Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.

The Federal Court, on Aug 3, ruled that Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution is valid and consistent with Article 10(1) (c) of the Federal Constitution. - Bernama

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