Penang Perikatan cries foul over decision to vacate four Bersatu seats

GEORGE TOWN: The DAP-led Penang state government has been accused of "snatching away the mandate of the people" by ordering four Bersatu assemblymen to vacate their seats in the state assembly.

Seberang Jaya assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin said it should be left to the people to decide if the assemblymen would continue to serve in the upcoming state elections instead of being barred from representing their voice in the upcoming assembly.

"In the next state election, we hope to leave it to the people if they want to choose us.

"We always believe in the people's mandate, but what is being done by the DAP-led state government is that they are taking away the mandate by deciding who should be in the state assembly.

"All 40 state assemblymen were selected by the people and the people have the right not to choose us again in the state election.

"They have jumped the gun by vacating the seats to prevent our participation and represent the voice of the people in our areas," he said during a press conference in Penang Gerakan's headquarters in Jalan Macalister on Saturday (March 4).

Dr Afif, who joined Bersatu after being sacked by PKR, said they would argue the matter in the upcoming state assembly starting March 6.

The four assemblymen are Dr Afif, Sungai Acheh assemblyman Zulkifli Ibrahim, Bertam assemblyman Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq and Teluk Bahang assemblyman Zolkifly Md Lazim.

"This is not about individuals or us. Zulkifli and I were sacked from PKR and we joined Bersatu, but Khaliq and Zolkifly never left Bersatu.

"Hence, it would be unfair to accuse us for hopping parties," he added.

Penang Perikatan Nasional liaison committee chairman Datuk Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai said the state had issued a letter dated Feb 10 informing of a motion during the state assembly to declare the four seats vacant.

"We feel that the declaration is unfair and is of double standards.

"During the last election in 2018, Khaliq and Zolkifly contested as members of Bersatu and they are still Bersatu members.

"In 2018, DAP and Amanah had also contested under PKR flag as Pakatan Harapan had not been officially established. If so, then it would mean DAP had also hopped parties," said Lau.

He then accused the move initiated by the Pakatan Harapan state government as an effort to restrict participation of Perikatan in Penang.

"This move is aimed at silencing the voice of the Opposition in the state, ahead of the impending state election.

"Without us, there would be no more voices in the assembly for checks and balances or to question issues in Penang," he said.

Last month, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state government would table a motion at the state legislative assembly sitting to compel four Bersatu elected representatives who withdrew their support for the administration in 2020 to vacate their seats.

He said this followed the Federal Court's decision on the validity of clauses or matters in the Penang State Constitution that prohibited any elected members from leaving the party.

Gerakan, Bersatu and PAS had contested under Perikatan Nasional in GE15.

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