By Remy Majangkim, MA63 Activist, Researcher and Tutor
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s Anti-Hopping law has been passed with a good majority in the Dewan Undangan Negeri Sabah. After a strange embargo on the bill before it was presented. The crafty nature of the bill saw the authors of the bill delete the association of article 6 (7) in the Sabah State Constitution. Sabah State Constitution has a strange provision that pulls and sorted the appointment of the Chief Minister of Sabah.
To understand what is article 6 (7), one needs to understand the relation to article 6 (3). So what is it?
Article 6 (3) says, “The Yang di-Pertua Negeri shall appoint as Chief Minister a member of the Legislative Assembly who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the Assembly and shall appoint the other members mentioned in Clause (2) in accordance with the advice of the Chief Minister from among the members of the Assembly.”
Article 6 (7) says, “For the purpose of Clause (3) of this Article, where a political party has won a majority of the elected seats of the Legislative Assembly in a general election, the leader of such political party, who is a member of the Legislative Assembly, shall be the member of the Legislative Assembly who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly.”
Article 6 (3) conferred the Yang the di-Pertua Negeri (TYT) with the power to appoint the newly elected Chief Minister and article 6 (7) redefine the characteristic of such person. It must fall inline with two criteria: 1) A leader of a political party, 2) a member of the Sabah Legislative Assembly. On that account, Article 6 (7) is a deeming provision in the Sabah State Constitution.
So what is a deeming provision? In the Oxford reference it says “a section or clause of a statute, regulation or other legal instrument that states how something is to be treated or regarded.” Plainly, it says, the Yang the di-Pertua Negeri (TYT) has a role to play in the power tussle to determine the new Chief Minister of Sabah. It is like in any game, whereby the winner of a particular game is in disputes, and a referee determines who the clear winner of the game is.
The creation of article 6 (7) was made by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) with the sole purpose to stop the abuse of power by legislative members in appointing their new Chief Minister. Arguably, it can be stated as an early form of an anti- hopping law. Historically, both the government and the Opposition has used this provision with great effect. Now the big question is should the provision be in the Sabah State Constitution although the Anti-Hopping law annulled its relevancy?
The formation of any new Sabah State Government is uniquely endemic to Sabah like our beloved pygmy elephant. A smaller political party or a splinter will take advantage of an alliance that ultimately benefited them in the position of power and prestige. Sabahan voters have taken to the poll and elected their leader hoping for maturity and stability in the State. We have a long way to achieve its desired effect, responsible and knowledgeable elected members.