Anti-hopping law held back in Sabah amid fluid political landscape

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is holding back on adopting the anti-hopping law amid a fresh political scenario emerging with the just concluded 15th General Election results.

The state had indicated that it would not be tabling the Bill during the current Budget session that began Thursday (Nov 24), with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor tabling a RM5.14bil Sabah Budget 2023, the largest in the state's history.

Hajiji told reporters that the state government would not be tabling the anti-hopping Bill for the state during the current week-long session, as they were focusing on the state Budget.

The Sabah government, prior to the general election had said that they were planning to introduce the anti-hopping law in late November as they needed to ensure they obtained a clear consensus from at least two-thirds of the 79 assemblymen for them to pass the anti-hopping law to be incorporated into the state Constitution.

With the absence of anti-hopping law at the state level, political observers believe that opens up the possibility of movements among assemblymen that could favour any of the parties trying to strengthen their political positions in the state.

Following the election results, the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Barisan Nasional-led state coalition government have thrown their support for the unity Federal Government led by Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Local opposition parties Sabah Pakatan and Parti Warisan are also now with Anwar's unity government, thus blurring the political landscape at the state level.

As it stands currently, GRS and Barisan have a combined support of 46 assemblymen with seven other friendly assemblymen - three from Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM), one each from Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM), Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (Harapan Rakyat) as well as PAS and an independent.

The state Opposition comprises Parti Warisan with 19 assemblymen and Sabah Pakatan with seven assemblymen.

Observers believe that the holding back of the anti-hopping law could benefit GRS or Barisan that might take in defectors as both parties look to strengthen their power bases in Sabah.

The political observers do not rule out re-alignments within the GRS-Barisan partnership as the Federal Government shapes up.

Others also do not rule out the possibility GRS' key component Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Sabah chapter led by Hajiji reshaping itself as a new local party.

GRS has already gone against Perikatan. Hajiji, who is Sabah Bersatu chairman, supported Anwar's unity through GRS.

For political observers, the movement of assemblymen could take place soon as the federal cabinet is shaped up.

For now, 24 of the 25 Sabah MPs from across the political divide are supporting Anwar's unity government.

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