Malaysia hits historic milestone, Dewan Rakyat passes anti-hopping law

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia hit a historic political milestone today when the amendment to the Federal Constitution to prohibit members of Dewan Rakyat from changing parties or committing party-hopping was passed after it received two-thirds majority support from the Dewan Rakyat.
Through a bloc voting, 209 out of the 220 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted in favour of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 2022, while 11 others were absent.
“Congratulations to all MPs who were involved in creating history today,” Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun said after announcing the result of the bloc voting.
The amendment was debated by 54 MPs after it was tabled for a second reading by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.
The amendment comprised four paragraphs and six clauses, including a clause stating that a member of Dewan Rakyat will lose the seat that he won if he switches to another party.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar when winding up the debate on the bill said members of the Dewan Rakyat who quit their party to join another will cease to be a Dewan Rakyat member and must vacate their seats.
He said independent members of Dewan Rakyat who formed a political coalition and become direct members of the coalition, will also be deemed as having switched parties if they left the coalition.
However, he said any action of a political party to leave a coalition and join another will not be deemed as changing parties.
Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi said if a member of Dewan Rakyat upheld principles contrary to his party which, according to the party constitution, can cause him to be sacked from the party, he will also be deemed as having jumped ship and must vacate his seat.
“In regard to this, the party constitution will decide the action to be taken against the member of Dewan Rakyat. So, there is a need for an amendment to be made to the party constitution to ensure that it is in line with this bill,” he said.
 The constitutional amendment bill was tabled for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat special sitting on April 11 but had to be re-scrutinised in terms of setting a clearer policy.
The same special meeting also approved the motion to set up the Special Select Committee comprising both government and opposition representatives to give their recommendations on the proposed amendment.
The Special Select Committee had held seven meetings and discussions between April 15 and July 12, while engagement sessions between the MPs from both the government and opposition blocs had also been held on July 25 and 26 before the bill was finally tabled for the second reading yesterday.
The Dewan Rakyat sitting continues on Monday.

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