KUALA LUMPUR – Today, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill (No.3) 2022 and the Provision for the Prohibition of Members of Parliament (MPs) from Party-Hopping.
Because the bill to amend the federal constitution requires a two-thirds majority of the Lower House’s total membership, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun called for a bloc vote.
Azhar stated that a two-thirds majority in the House of 222 seats is 148.
“Congratulations to all of you for making history today. The result of the bloc vote held is as follows: 209 voted for the motion and 11 are not in the House.”
Both the second and third readings of the bill received two-thirds majority support.
Earlier in his closing remarks, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law), explained that an MP who leaves one political party and then joins another would no longer be a member of the House.
“The membership of a Dewan Rakyat (DR) member refers to the membership of a political party, whether it is in a coalition or not.
“Aside from that, the membership of a DR member also refers to an MP who does not belong to any political party within a coalition, but the person is a direct member of the coalition party,” he said.
For MPs who initially contested under the ticket of a political party but later on decided to become independent, Wan Junaidi said such act would be defined as party-hopping.
As a result, he said the seat must be immediately vacated.
He also clarified several instances that would be spared from the definition of party-hopping.
“A DR member will not cease to be a DR member if his or her political party is dissolved or deregistered.
“The removal of membership of a DR member from political parties when elected as the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat does not cause him to cease from being an MP.
“The sacking of a DR member from his or her membership in a political party is excluded from the definition of party-hopping.”
In response to a question about the timeline for all states to adopt the law, Wan Junaidi stated that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is empowered to hold engagement sessions with Malay Rulers and Yang di-Pertua Negeri in order to persuade all states to enact the same law.
“However, if there is a requirement, the ministry will engage with the states to request that they adopt the law.”
When tabling the bill in the House yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob stated that the Act would not be applicable retroactively, implying that it would only apply to party hoppers after the Act is gazetted.
“A one-step approach is taken in introducing the law to prohibit party hopping, which is to amend the Federal Constitution.”
He also stated that House members who had jumped would be allowed to run again in an election.
Concerning what happens to a constituency after its representative switches parties, Ismail Sabri stated that the seat must be vacated and an election held 60 days after the Dewan Rakyat Speaker notifies the Election Commission of an unexpected vacancy (EC). This would also apply to independent legislators.
The bill, which was introduced for the second time yesterday, was debated by 54 MPs from both the government and opposition parties. – Bernama