Amend Constitution, Make ‘Jumper’ Lawmakers Quit Their Seats – Chan

Chan Foong Hin

KUALA LUMPUR: The law should be amended to compel elected representatives who have switched allegiance to vacate their seats and seek a new mandate from voters, said Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin.

Chan said he disagreed with the reply on his question by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin in Parliament yesterday.

“I hold steadfast to three principles that; it is the people’s right to choose their representative; the elected representatives must be accountable and held responsible to the voters but at the same time they too have the freedom of association,” said Chan.

In this respect, whoever chose to jump to the other camp must also resign and vacate their seat so that a by-election can be held, he said.

In this respect, Chan said Article 10 of the Federal Constitution should be amended in order to allow legislation of the Anti-Hop law.

Subsequently, Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution needs to be omitted so that a people elected representative would not be barred from contesting in elections for five years should he or she resigned and vacated the seat.

Yesterday, Mohamad Hanipa told Chan that the Federal Court in 1992 has ruled that an Anti-Hop legislation was ultra vires to the Federal Constitution.

He was referring to a case in Kelantan in the early 1990s that saw two assemblymen from the now defunct political party – Semangat 46 – defect to Umno.

The duo — Nordin Salleh and Wan Mohamed Najib Wan Mohamed — were disqualified as assemblymen in accordance with an anti-hopping law in the state.

Both lost in the subsequent by-elections but the Federal Court ruled that their disqualification was against the constitution and reinstated them as assemblymen.

Based on the court’s decision, it was clear that such legislation would restrict one’s right to freedom of association as enshrined under Article 10(1)(c) of the constitution, said Mohammad Hanipa.

“We know there is a need for an anti-hopping law, especially in Sabah but we are subject to the Federal Court’s ruling of 1992,” he added.

The deputy minister pointed out that any legislation to compel elected representatives who switch loyalty to vacate their seats would be against Article 48(1) and Part I(6) of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

Chan said the provision to compel elected representative to resign and re-contest the seat should only be applicable to those who jumped ship and not to those who have been disqualified due to committing criminal offences among others.