No special Parliament sitting, anti-hopping Bill to be tabled on July 18, says Malaysian minister

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi, who is charge of Parliament and Law, said this was agreed by the PSSC during a meeting on June 7. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's proposed anti-hopping Bill will be tabled when Parliament begins its scheduled meeting this July 18. 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has decided that there is "no need for the government to hold a special one-day Parliament sitting to table the Constitution (Amendments) 2022 Bill related to prohibition on switching parties by members of the Lower House of Parliament," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said in a statement on Thursday (June 9).

He cited several reasons why the Prime Minister decided not to hold a special one-day sitting to table the Constitutional amendments in the first week of July as proposed by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC).

Among them was the cost of holding the special sitting and the absence of Members of Parliament (MPs) who will be abroad on official work.

"Overall, the government will have to bear an estimated cost of RM1.07million (S$335,160), not including operational costs, if the special sitting is held for both the Lower and Upper Houses," he said.

Besides this, he noted that several MPs will be overseas if the meeting is held in the first week of July as proposed by the PSSC.

"As an example, the special select committee on finance and economy including the committee on security will be away between early and mid-July," he added.

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi also noted that the coming Parliament meeting has been scheduled to begin on July 18.

He said the proposed Bill will be tabled at the meeting and assured that ample time would be given to debate and pass the proposed law.

On Wednesday, Mr Wan Junaidi announced that the PSSC had finalised the draft of the proposed laws for Cabinet's approval including a recommendation to hold a special one-day sitting in the first week of July for the purpose.

Parliament's Lower House is scheduled to meet from July 18 till Aug 4.

Last Tuesday (June 2), Mr Wan Junaidi announced that the proposed anti-hopping laws would be implemented through the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022.

He said that there was no need for separate specific laws to deal with party hopping.

If passed, the anti hopping law could be enforced as early as September.

Among the proposed amendments is that a by-election is to be held within 60 days if an MP switches parties or voluntarily resigns from his party.

Also to be amended is Article 10 of the Federal Constitution on freedom of association, an effort to prevent party hopping.

This will be by way of a new provision 3A added under Article 10 to restrict the freedom of association in relation to membership in a political party by elected representatives.

Also to be introduced is a new Article 49A where a "casual vacancy" would occur if an MP party hops, resigns from his or her party or if an elected independent MP joins a party.

The proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution will require two-thirds majority support in the Lower House or 148 votes out of the current 220 MPs.

A total of 39 elected representatives have switched parties since the last general election in 2018, resulting in political instability and the collapse of several state governments.

Last September, the government inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan to initiate reforms that includes tabling proposed anti-hopping laws in Parliament before July 31 this year.

There have been calls from several quarters, including political parties, for the anti-hopping laws to be ready before the coming general election.

Several MPs from both sides of the political divide were against the initial proposal that an MP who is expelled from his party would also lose his seat.

Meanwhile, Mr Wan Junaidi said that PSSC has responded to several policy questions raised by the Cabinet on June 1 on the proposed draft laws.

He added that the committee will be holding its final meeting soon before submitting the proposed drafts laws for the Cabinet's approval and date of its tabling in Parliament.

He noted that the bipartisan PSSC, which he chairs, had succeeded in completing the mandate given by Parliament in seeking a solution to end party hopping.

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