GE15: The role of the anti-hopping law in current political scenario

KUALA LUMPUR: The Constitution (Amendment) Act (No.3) 2022 does not prevent Members of Parliament (MPs) from any party from giving support in their individual capacity to any coalition to form a new Federal Government post-15th General Election, says political analyst Dr Md Shukri Shuib.

He said the anti-hopping law, as its name goes, applies only to the MPs who hop to another party and those who quit their own party.

"An MP cannot quit his party. However, if he is sacked from the party, the anti-hopping law does not apply to him. His sacking will affect his party. It is the party that will lose the seat. This is the tricky part,” he told Bernama here.

The law came into force on Oct 5, 2022.

The 15th General Election (GE15) on Saturday (Nov 19) ended with no party obtaining a simple majority of 112 seats in the 222-seat Parliament to form the new government.

Pakatan Harapan obtained 82 seats, followed by Perikatan Nasional (73), BN (30), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (22), Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (six), Warisan (three), Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM) and Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) (one each), and the independents, two.

Following the results of GE15, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong decreed that all party and coalition leaders to inform Istana Negara about the new coalition they have agreed upon to form the new government, as well as the name of their Prime Minister candidate, before 2pm on Monday (Nov 21), before extending the deadline to 2pm Tuesday (Nov 22).

There are rumours that several Barisan elected representatives are inclined towards Pakatan and the rest, towards Perikatan, which raises the question of the significance of the anti-party hopping law.

Md Shukri, a lecturer in politics and international studies at Universiti Utara Malaysia, said that in this context, the Barisan chairman must find a way to resolve all internal issues in the coalition by holding talks among its component leaders.

"Those who do not support the chairman’s ‘move’ cannot jump ship and the chairman, of course, would not want to sack them and risk losing their seats. This can cause a flaw in the party,” he said.

Meanwhile, constitution expert, Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Shamrahayu Ab Aziz said Article 49(a) of the Federal Constitution stated that there are three types of party-hopping situations that can cause the seat to be declared vacant.

"First situation, an MP from party A jumped to party B. Second situation, an independent MP joined a party. And the third situation is when an MP quit his party to become Independent MP. These are the situations that can cause the seat to be declared vacant.

"If the MP is sacked from his party, he will not lose his seat and he will remain as MP,” she said.

According to Dr Shamrahayu, in such situations, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker needs to inform the Election Commission (EC) about the vacant seat as a by-election needs to be held to elect a new MP.

Political analyst from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said under the anti-party hopping law, there is no problem if the whole party (en bloc) supports another party.

"That is what I understand. An MP who wants to leave the party has to vacate his seat, but if he was sacked, he gets to stay as an independent MP. He cannot jump to another party, but he can support it, no problem,” he said.

In the current state of a hung Parliament, Sivamurugan sees the best solution is to create a unity government.

The situation now is similar to the May 13 incident in 1969 when the country was governed by the National Operations Council, better known by its Malay acronym Mageran, which finally managed to ease the political tension at that time.

"If the situation is prolonged where no party gets a simple majority, the current precarious situation will be protracted.

"To avoid this from happening, the parties involved, PH, PN, BN, GPS, GRS must take the initiative to form the government to stabilise the country and eventually elect a prime minister among them,” he added.- Bernama

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