KUALA LUMPUR: MPs who trigger a by-election when they switch to another party should be barred from defending their seats, says Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian).
While debating the anti-hopping bill in the Dewan Rakyat, he said he had been pushing for this since 2018 when he spoke in favour of the anti-hopping law.
Under the bill tabled by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob earlier today, any MP who decides to switch allegiance after being elected will automatically have their seat vacated, triggering a by-election.
“However it seems like we are allowing the party-hoppers to contest again in this (constitutional) amendment,” said Ahmad.
“I think it is not right since we need to punish those who have hopped. Therefore, we should not allow them to contest in the by-elections.”
He also pointed out that there was a lack of clarity in the bill with regard to party-hopping among component parties of a coalition.
“Let’s say if an MP from the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) defects to Umno, would he be considered as a party-hopper?
“There would be two opinions on this matter, where some would say that he hopped to another party, while others would argue that he did not hop since he is still in the coalition,” he added.
In stating his support for the bill, Ahmad said it was needed to ensure political stability in Malaysia, but maintained that the infamous “Sheraton Move” that led to the downfall of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was not an act of massive party-hopping.
“The Sheraton Move happened because we did not have a prime minister then. Langkawi (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) had resigned. Therefore, it was not (a form) of betrayal.”
His statement prompted Mukhriz Mahathir (Pejuang-Jerlun) to interject, saying: “You might want to look at the chronology of events first. Which one happened first, the Sheraton Move or (Mahathir)’s resignation?”
The much-awaited anti-hopping bill is being debated in the Dewan Rakyat after it was tabled for its second reading by Ismail.
This followed months of deliberation by the parliamentary select committee tasked with drafting the bill and nearly a year after Ismail and PH signed their memorandum of understanding (MoU).