Anti-hopping law’s weakness exposed, say experts


PETALING JAYA: The Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s decision to let six rogue Bersatu MPs keep their seats has exposed a weakness in the anti-hopping law as it shows different legislatures can interpret the law differently, say legal experts.

While Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul ruled that the six Bersatu MPs did not have to vacate their seats, the Speaker of the Kelantan Assembly ruled differently – a rogue Bersatu assemblyman had to vacate his.

“The Speaker’s decision will set a precedent,” political analyst Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar said, referring to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker.

Yesterday, Johari ruled that the six MPs could keep their parliamentary seats despite having ceased to be Bersatu members.

Bersatu had ruled that the six had ceased to be members after they pledged to support the Prime Minister.

This was after Bersatu amended the party’s rules to nullify the membership of any of its elected representatives who shifts allegiance to rival parties.

Recently, Kelantan Speaker Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah ruled that the Nenggiri state seat had fallen vacant after the elected assemblyman, Mohd Azizi Abu Naim, had ceased to be a Bersatu member.

“Evidently, the Speakers are still party members who interpret the law according to how their parties see it,” said Tunku Mohar.

In the future, he said, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker and the Speakers of state legislatures should consult either the Attorney General or the state legal adviser before deciding on the status of seats.

Lawyer Tripatjit Singh said the Dewan Rakyat Speaker had used his powers to decide on the fate of the six MPs based on Parliament’s standing orders.

“The candidates did not fulfil the criteria for disqualification, thus rendering the seat not vacant,” said Tripatjit.

In the case of the six MPs, their seats could not be vacated as per Article 48 of the Federal Constitution as they were not disqualified, he said.

Since they were not disqualified under the Constitution, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker can use his discretion to decide whether the seat is vacant, Tripatjit added.

Tripatjit said Johari’s ruling puts the future of the anti-hopping law into question.

Related stories:

Six get to keep their seats

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