KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) has reiterated its “firm stance” that the approval of an anti-party hopping law is one of the key conditions of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) they signed with the government last year.
The PH presidential council said in a statement on Friday (Apr 8) that they would not compromise on the matter and that they understood the need to amend an article of the Federal Constitution to enable the tabling of the Bill.
They said they would support the constitutional amendments during the special sitting in parliament on Apr 11 but stressed that the drafting of the bill had to be expedited.
“The opposition leaders conveyed Pakatan Harapan's stand to the Prime Minister yesterday. As such we urge the Prime Minister to state his commitment that the Bill will be tabled, to be approved in parliament in the near future, and a date for the second special sitting must be set and announced in Parliament on April 11," they said.
The joint statement was issued by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) president Mohamad Sabu, Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general Anthony Loke and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) president Wilfred Madius Tangau.
They also wanted the minister in charge of tabling the constitutional amendment on Apr 11 to state in parliament the basic principles of the Anti-Party Hopping Bill that will be tabled and approved in the second special session later on.
“Pakatan Harapan believes that by passing the constitutional amendment and the Bill, the people’s trust in the electoral process and parliamentary democracy will be able to be restored,” they said.
The statement was issued in the wake of reports that there were some disagreements over certain components of the Bill from members of the government.
The de facto law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was quoted as saying that there would be a new date for another special parliamentary sitting to table, debate and approve the proposed Anti-Party Hopping Bill.
The Star quoted him as saying that the date would be decided by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Mr Wan Junaidi said the draft Bill would not be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Apr 11 following calls by the Cabinet for more studies to be done on the definition of “party hopping”.
The Bill was supposed to have been tabled for first reading on March 24, the final day of the last parliament meeting but was deferred to Apr 11.
The proposed Bill would involve constitutional amendments where seats could be declared vacant and a re-election called when members of parliament were to switch parties.
Mr Wan Junaidi had previously said that 39 parliamentarians had switched political allegiances since 2018, leading to political instability in the country, with three prime ministers being appointed in a single parliamentary term.
The MOU on Transformation and Political Stability that was signed between PH and the government in Sep last year covers matters on COVID-19 plan, administrative transformation, parliamentary reform, judiciary independence, Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the establishment of a steering committee.
The pact was not signed by other opposition parties such as Parti Pejuang Tanah Air and Parti Warisan Sabah.
The agreement took immediate effect and would stand until parliament is dissolved.
As part of the agreement, the government has agreed not to dissolve the parliament before Jul 31, 2022.
This meant that a general election would not be held until at least August 2022.
The current term of parliament ends by July 2023, five years from when the first parliament sitting was held following the general election in 2018.
The election must be held within 60 days of the parliament’s dissolution.