LAW and Institutional Reform Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the Federal Constitution now gives political parties the authority to take action against disobedient lawmakers.
When winding up the motion of confidence for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Parliament, the Pengerang MP said it is now completely legal for the government, for instance, to bind its MPs to “kowtow” to its agenda in Parliament.
“Before the constitution was amended, yes, you can say that certain actions can be questioned as being undemocratic,” she said at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
“But because of the anti-hopping law and constitutional amendment, we cannot deny that this law can be considered as a ‘legal air cover’ allowing political parties to tie their politicians down.”
In essence, she says there is nothing “unconstitutional” in the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by the unity government as claimed by some Perikatan Nasional lawmakers.
While backing the MOA, she also said the anti-hopping law mandates government MPs to back the Government’s position in votes and that parties can put provisions against MPs who disobey party instructions.
Such disobedience will trigger the loss of their membership and consequently the vacating of their parliamentary seats.
Several MPs had questioned the validity of the MOA saying that it is unconstitutional or dictatorial for the Government to state the MPs from the majority in Parliament will lose their seats at the Dewan Rakyat.
Azalina cited Article 49A(1)(a)(ii) of the federal constitution, which stipulates that MPs must resign from their positions if they are no longer a member of their party.
This gave political parties the freedom to enact specific measures that would effectively deprive lawmakers who disagree with the party of their parliamentary seats because it means they will lose their party membership if they don’t follow the instructions.
As a result, she said, such a move is considered to be legal and not unconstitutional.
“What this means is that the mechanism is subject to the respective political parties… This is why the anti-hopping law was introduced.” – Dec 20, 2022
Main pic credit: Bernama