February 23, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – A slew of constitutional amendments will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat next month to put at end to party hopping “once and for all”, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Law and Parliament said the proposed amendments would be tabled during the Dewan Rakyat meeting from Feb 28 and will be passed by March 24.
“Instead of enacting a new set of laws which may have their constitutionality challenged in court, we are looking at the Constitution itself as the basis to stop party hopping once and for all.
“I am still on track to table the amendments by mid March,” he told The Star yesterday.
He said the Attorney-General’s Chambers were told yesterday to begin the final drafting of the proposed amendments so it would be ready for the coming Parliament meeting. He noted that the bi-partisan committee set up to look into party-hopping was satisfied with the feedback after several engagement sessions with stakeholders, including lawmakers.
Among the amendments, he cited, were those involving Articles 48 and 54 with regard to disqualification of an elected member of Parliament and appointment to fill vacant senatorships in Dewan Negara.
“We are not just looking at the disqualification of those who party-hop but also to stop their appointments to fill casual vacancies in the Senate,” he said.
He stressed that there was no intention to introduce new laws to punish party-hoppers.
“There will be no corporal punishment against party-hoppers,” he stressed.
Instead, a mechanism similar to a recall election may be put in place to give voters the right to decide the fate of those who party-hop.
Wan Junaidi remained tight-lipped on details of the amendments.
“Wait and see when it is tabled,” he said.
The Perikatan Nasional government and the Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in September last year aimed at reforms and political stability for the nation.
The reforms included the tabling of anti-hopping laws and limiting the post of prime minister to two terms.In recent years, there has also been a push among civil society and political parties for laws against party-hopping.
This comes after the federal government and several state governments collapsed due to defections.
The “Sheraton Move” in February 2020 resulted in the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan federal government, when a number of MPs switched sides to help form the Perikatan Nasional government.
Subsequently, the state governments of Melaka, Kedah, Perak and Johor, previously led by Pakatan Harapan, also fell due to defections.
The Sabah election in July 2020 was also triggered by defections, after state assemblymen pulled their support for the Parti Warisan Sabah-led government.
In November last year, Pengerang MP and Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said submitted a Private Member’s Bill in a bid to address the issue.
Her Bill was titled the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the Regulation of Party Hopping and Political Accountability Bill 2021.
Among Azalina’s suggestions were for elected representatives who switched parties to vacate their seats and for a referendum to be held to allow the voters to decide if an elected representative should be replaced or not.