Does the desertion – not resignation – of 4 Bersatu MPs tantamount to anti-hopping?

THE move by the four Bersatu MPs to support the unity government of Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim shows that the anti-hopping law is far from perfect.

In other words, there is a pressing need for the government of the day to take the necessary steps to address the loopholes that have been laid bare by the four MPs who supported the government.

When the four Bersatu MP declared their support for Anwar ostensibly on the need to obtain financial grants for their constituencies, the law that prevents anti-hopping has been called into question.

As long as the legislation is not tightened up, there will be politicians exploiting the law for political purposes.

The four MPs have not resigned from Bersatu but merely pledged their support to Anwar. Technically, their actions might not breach the provisions of the law.

Leadership crisis in Bersatu

It is rumoured that more opposition MPs from Bersatu might follow suit. Presently, since the four have not left the party, the anti-hopping law might not be applicable.

Bersatu president and Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (middle) addressing the issue of the party’s MPs who pledge support for the unity government on Nov 9.

Yes, Bersatu can suspend or expel them from the party but whether such an act of supporting the PM constitutes a serious breach of the anti-hopping law remains to be seen.

I am sure the opposition will mount legal battles to consider the defection as hopping from one party to another although technically they have not resigned from their original party.

It is somehow strange that Bersatu who was against the anti-hopping provisions in the beginning seems to be the victim of the ineffective law.

While the case of the four defections calls for a thorough study and improvement of the law, the act itself sets a dangerous precedent. It makes a mockery of the much fought for anti-hopping law.

Ironically, the law is there to possibly prevent a major exodus of politicians moving from one party to another. But the loopholes are there and extremely glaring.

The unity government is badly in need of a majority to ensure its political stability and the same allow it to pass legislations such as the amendments to the citizenship laws in the country.

1,001 questions

In this regard, the crossover of the four Bersatu MPs provides the Madani government the much-needed parliamentary majority. There are already talks of more MPs crossing over to the government side.

Anyway, one wonders if it true that there are problems brewing in Bersatu. Is it true that there is leadership crisis in the party leading to defections? Is there really a move to remove Tan Srii Muhyiddin Yassin from being the party’s chairman?

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy

If Bersatu takes up the defection of the four MPs to the court, wonder how will the latter react? Will the defection be rendered as contravening the anti-hopping law thereby triggering by-elections in the four parliamentary constituencies?

Or alternatively, the mere fact of them not deserting the party can it be considered as not anti-hopping?

While I am not a legal expert, the desertion of the four MPs without actually leaving the party is nothing less than anti-hopping. The question is how the law would be interpreted in the court of the law.

The sad thing is that while the menace of party hopping is still there, the present law is far from effective. The desertion of the four MPs from Bersatu did not take place in vacuum. They are as guilty as the government that accepts their support.

How to respect the law if the government of the day is willing to receive their support just for political expediency. Morality and ethics have been thrown to the wind. – Nov 12, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy was the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He was also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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