Officials of Malaysia's Bersatu party now say Johor state lawmaker still a member

Datuk Osman Sapian was seen in a video campaigning for the candidate of rival Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.
Datuk Osman Sapian was seen in a video campaigning for the candidate of rival Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR - A Johor state lawmaker for Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia is still a party member, two officials told local media on Friday (Sept 4), responding to earlier reports that Datuk Osman Sapian has lost his membership as he had campaigned for a rival group.

In what is seen as a breach of the party's Constitution, Mr Osman was seen in a video campaigning for the candidate of rival Parti Pejuang Tanah Air in the recent Slim by-election in Perak.

Pejuang, whose full name means Fighters of the Nation, is a new party being set up by former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

The disciplinary board chief of Bersatu, Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas told Malay Mail online news that it will be looking into the allegations.

“We will act fairly as he has personally denied going against the party’s rules,” Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin told Malay Mail, when contacted.

He was quoted earlier Friday as telling Malaysiakini: "There's no need to bring him to the disciplinary board, and the secretary-general has been informed that Osman is no longer a Bersatu member because of his own actions."

Bersatu's secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin said Mr Osman, 68, will be called up to answer the allegations against him.

“If he admits to crossing the floor, it means nullification of his membership. But for now, he has not crossed the floor. So, he will be summoned to help in the investigation, which usually takes time,” he told Bernama news agency.

The kerfuffle surrounding Mr Osman's comes ahead of the Johor state legislature meeting next week.

If he is removed from Bersatu, it could result in a hung Johor state assembly, as the Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance that rules Johor will then have 28 seats, against 27 held by the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

Mr Osman could decide to become an independent lawmaker or join up with PH, which has said it is willing to consider Dr Mahathir's Pejuang party as an ally.

Either way, any vote on Bills or motion on financial matters in the Johor state assembly could result in a logjam.

 
 
 

Still, the Speaker of the House had indicated that he might be the tie-breaker in any vote in the assembly.

State Speaker Suhaizan Kaiat said on Monday (Sept 1): "If there is a hung assembly, then the Speaker will have the deciding vote on whether the motion will be passed or not."

Yet another scenario being talked about was for Johor's Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad from Umno to ask the Johor Sultan to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh state election, as happened in Sabah following a spate of defections.

In June, Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar expressed his disappointment with the state's turmoil among the political parties.

"If there is power-grabbing happening among the elected representatives, then I will immediately dissolve the Johor state assembly," he had warned.

In the 56-seat Johor assembly, PN's seats currently are held by Umno (14), Bersatu (12) including Mr Osman's ward, Malaysian Indian Congress (two) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (one).

PH's seats come from the Democratic Action Party (14), Parti Amanah Negara (nine) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (four).

Dr Mahathir's Pejuang party has submitted its formal registration with the Registrar of Societies.