KUCHING: The Sarawak Legislative Assembly has passed anti-hopping amendments to the state constitution to be in line with similar provisions in the Federal Constitution passed in July.
The amendments involved prohibiting any change of political parties by an elected representative, as well as circumstances whereby membership in the state legislature is not affected.
Deputy Minister in the Premier‘s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said an elected representative would lose his or her seat in the state assembly if, having been elected as a member of a political party, he or she resigns from that party.
"A simple example would be if 'A', a member of party 'B', wins an election and is appointed to the legislative assembly, but decides to resign and join party 'C' or becomes an independent member. He would then cease to be a member of the assembly," she said when tabling the amendment Bill on Tuesday (Nov 22).
Hasidah said a member elected as an Independent would also lose his seat if he subsequently joins a political party.
However, she said elected representatives would not lose their seats if their political party was dissolved or deregistered, or if they were expelled from the party.
A member who resigns from his party upon being elected Speaker of the legislative assembly will also keep his seat.
"This amendment is intended to ensure that the state constitution contains a similar provision and is not inconsistent with an essential provision of the Federal Constitution," Hasidah said, adding that it inserted a new Article 16B and deleted the existing clauses (6) and (7) of Article 17.
The amendment also provided for the term "political party" to be defined in Article 44 of the state constitution, to be in line with the amendment to the Federal Constitution.
After a short debate, the amendments were passed with the required two-thirds majority when 77 members supported the Bill.