PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government has the backing of independent incoming Kudat MP Datuk Verdon Bahanda, although questions have been raised over his supposed membership into Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM) and whether the anti-party hopping law will come into play.
In a statement today, Verdon said he respects the decree of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who appointed Anwar as the country’s 10th PM on Thursday (Nov 24).
“My thanks to the people of the Kudat parliamentary constituency for your trust in me in the 15th General Elections (GE15) and, as I promised during my campaigning, Kudat will continue to support the government.
“This is for the good of the parliamentary constituency,” he explained, “so that we are not left behind in development as well as to make this constituency great and on a par with other areas.
Verdon added that he met Anwar in Putrajaya yesterday (Aug 25), together with KDM president Datuk Peter Anthony, KDM deputy president Datuk Wetrom Bahanda (who is also the incoming Kota Marudu MP) and incoming Tenom MP Riduan Rubin (who ran as an independent and won, just like Verdon).
As of press time, Riduan has not confirmed whether he too is throwing his support for Anwar’s unity government.
Interestingly, however, The Star reported that KDM and its three incoming MPs (i.e. Verdon, Wetrom and Riduan) are officially part of the administration.
The trio had initially thrown their support for Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was up against Anwar for the PM post but lost out after Sultan Abdullah determined that it was Anwar who commanded the confidence of most incoming federal lawmakers.
Then on Thursday, Peter said KDM respects Sultan Abdullah’s order for a unity government to be established for the sake of national stability and the well-being of Malaysians.
While it cannot be immediately ascertained if Verdon has joined KDM, the Malay Mail reported Riduan as doing so on Nov 11 – despite already throwing his hat in the ring for Tenom as an independent candidate on Nov 5.
Anthony, who was unable to contest the Tenom seat over a recent corruption conviction, has also since confirmed that Riduan “cooperated” with KDM during the 15th General Elections (GE15) campaign, according to a Bernama report today.
Joining a party despite contesting and winning elections as independents should lead to immediate polls for their respective seats as the anti-party hopping law is in effect.
However, according to lawyer Ryan Soo, the prohibition specifically reads as “having been” elected as an independent MP; hence, only at that point in time would such persons be prohibited from joining a party.
“Any change of political party association needs to happen after he (Riduan) has been elected to trigger an anti-hop violation. So, it is interesting because the timing falls right between the cracks. It is creative,” Soo told the Malay Mail earlier this month.
Checks against the Election Commission’s (EC) official GE15 dashboard confirm that both Verdon and Riduan contested and won their respective Kudat and Tenom seats on independent tickets. – Nov 26, 2022
Main photo credit: Verdon Bahanda’s Facebook page