De facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has reportedly confirmed that the proposed anti-party hopping bill will not be tabled during the special parliamentary sitting on Monday.
“Yes, it has been deferred,” The Star quoted him as confirming a cabinet decision.
Nevertheless, the Dewan Rakyat sitting slated to be held on Monday will still proceed, where a constitutional amendment that would facilitate the future introduction of the anti-hopping bill will be introduced.
In the meantime, Wan Junaidi (above) reportedly told The Star that the anti-hopping bill has been sent back for more studies to be conducted on the definition of “party hopping”.
Earlier today, several sources familiar with the matter told Malaysiakini that the cabinet resolved this morning to instead table a bill to amend some portions of the Federal Constitution that would enable a full-fledged “anti-hopping” legislation in the future.
The April 11 special Dewan Rakyat sitting, said sources, is expected to otherwise proceed as planned.
Putrajaya has briefed MPs several times on the contents of the bill and sought feedback. However, the details of the bill are yet to be fully publicised.
Meanwhile, Free Malaysia Today reported that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is expected to chair a meeting with all MPs and senators on Sunday regarding the bill.
“The act itself won’t be tabled on Monday.
“Once the Federal Constitution is amended, the Act would no longer require a two-thirds majority,” the portal quoted unnamed sources as saying.
Anti-hopping law could be abused
The report said the government has no plans to abandon the bill but wants to iron out several issues first such as the definition of “hopping”.
Previously, Wan Junaidi had informed the Dewan Negara that the bill will include a clause that triggers a by-election if an MP is expelled by his or her party.
This clause, according to lawyer New Sin Yew, was subject to abuse by a malicious party leadership or could force MPs into being rubber stamps.
Malaysiakini is attempting to seek comments from Wan Junaidi, who has worked on and engaged MPs on this bill for more than half a year.
Wan Junaidi had previously explained that the bill will address Article 48(6), which disqualifies a person from being an MP for five years after resigning as an MP.
Article 48(6) was added to the Federal Constitution in 1990, two years after Shahrir Abdul Samad famously resigned as a BN parliamentarian for Johor Bharu to force a by-election. Shahrir won that by-election as an independent candidate.
Among other provisions that need to be amended for the bill to take effect was Article 10(1)(c), which guarantees every citizen the freedom of association.
The bill was a key component of Ismail Sabri’s confidence-and-supply agreement with Pakatan Harapan.
Yesterday, Ismail pledged that the special sitting on April 11 will go on as planned when he met a delegation from the Pakatan Harapan presidential council.
The tabling of the bill has already been postponed once before. It was originally slated for its first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on March 24.