Forcing MPs to resign from Parliament prelude to dictatorship, says PN MP

AS expected, the unity government’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed yesterday (Dec 16) came under fire from the opposition Perikatan Nasional with former deputy law minister Mas Ermieyati Samsudin saying it is a “prelude to dictatorship.”

The MOU signed by the parties in the coalition in power, the Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional, Gerakan Rakyat Sabah, Warisan and Gabungan Parti Sarawak leaders requires Member of Parliaments (MP) to vacate their seats if they fail to toe their party line and vote against the Prime Minister or the government.

“This MOU is illegal, unconstitutional, dangerous and unenforceable,” she said in a media statement today.

According to Mas, the parliamentary select committee (PSC) tasked with drafting the anti-hopping law stated on July 18 that an MP who does not vote by the wishes of their party will not lose his or her seat under Article 49A.

Whether there may be various interpretations of the relevance of Article 49A to the anti-hopping law, the fact is the MOU refers to the said article and the leaders or the coalition seems to agree that it can be used to force a rogue MP to lose his or her seat.

For this condition, the MOU cited Article 49A(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“The MP’s party must then issue a notice to the Dewan Rakyat speaker on the vacant seat, according to Article 49A(1), to notify the Election Commission (EC) on holding a by-election,” said the MOU.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, an expert on constitutional matters, seems to agree that there is a misconception regarding the anti-hopping law.

In his interpretation in a video that has garnered 45,000 views on a YouTube channel, he said an MP will not lose his or her seat if they did not vote according to their party’s wishes.

He said once a person is elected in Parliament, the person is a MP first, whether the person is elected under the banner of party A or party B and this gives the MPs the right to choose what to vote for and when to bring up issues that they feel are of interest to their constituents.

In another comment on the anti-hopping law Hanif made to The Sun newspaper in October, he cautioned that the Sheraton Move of 2020 could happen again and the people will be at the losing end a second time.

The only solution to this loophole, he then said, is for all political parties to amend their constitutions to align with the anti-hopping law.

“The party’s constitution must be amended to (be in line) with the law as certain parts of it will not apply to (all) political parties. Otherwise, the law will not prevent another Sheraton Move,” he said. — Dec 17, 2022


Main photo credit: Malaysiakini

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