KUALA LUMPUR - A total of 39 Malaysian Members of Parliament (MPs) have switched their political loyalties since the 2018 general election, said the Cabinet minister in charge of Parliament on Saturday (April 2).
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Parliament and Law, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, was quoted by Bernama news agency as saying their switch of allegiances had led to political instability, with three prime ministers being appointed in a single parliamentary term.
"This has not brought about political stability in the country. When there is political instability, then the economy becomes difficult to manage as well... and when we are facing Covid-19 this (instability) becomes a huge problem," he told reporters, as quoted by Bernama after attending an event in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak.
The 39 MPs represent 17.6 per cent of Malaysia's 222 federal lawmakers, with Umno and Parti Keadilan Rakyat losing the most number of MPs since 2018.
Changing political parties or declaring oneself to be an independent lawmaker is allowed in Malaysia currently.
Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi said to stop party hopping, the government has drafted amendments under the Federal Constitution (Amendments) 2022 Bill on Anti-Party Hopping.
"At this stage, there are some who agree (with the Bill) and some who do not but if the Cabinet agrees to it on April 6, a special sitting will be held on April 11 to debate it," he said.
Mr Wan Junaidi said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, after discussions, had agreed that the Bill will be tabled in Parliament on April 11. But the minister said this would be subject to a decision by the Cabinet on April 6, he said, Bernama reported.
Malaysia has faced political turmoil in the last three years amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The four-party Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance won the May 2018 general election and picked Tun Dr Mahathir as its prime minister.
Some 15 Umno MPs left the party soon after the general election to boost the ranks of one of the PH parties, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) which was led by its chairman Dr Mahathir.
But Dr Mahathir resigned in February 2020 when most Bersatu MPs abandoned the PH alliance, and teamed up with 11 MPs who left another PH member, PKR.
Bersatu and the PKR rebels then joined up with Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia to form the next government led by Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who became the next prime minister on March 1, 2020.
Dr Mahathir was ousted from Bersatu.
But Mr Muhyiddin's government itself collapsed in August last year, with Umno coaslescing around Umno leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri as the country's third prime minister in the space of a little more than three years.