GEORGE TOWN: Penang may see by-elections for two seats after two assemblymen from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) declared that they no longer support the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition state government.
Bertam’s assemblyman Khalid Mehtab Mohd Ishaq together with his counterpart from Teluk Bahang, Zolkifli Md Lazim, confirmed that they have switched allegiance to the federal-led Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
In March, the duo had sworn to be with PH in Penang but, two months later, they have decided to change sides, citing that it was a directive from the top.
But there is a clause in the state constitution, under Section 14A, which is defined as a landmark anti-party hopping law.
Clause (1) of the new article provides that any member of the House elected as a candidate of a political party must vacate his seat upon quitting the party.
In any case, Khalid had argued that the he and Zolkifli were not changing parties, they remained in the same party (PPBM) and they were just abiding by an internal directive in view that party president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was also now the prime minister.
It remains to be seen how the matter would now be interpreted by the DAP-led state government, legal experts and the Opposition.
With Khalid and Zolkifli’s move to join PN, the federal coalition has five out of 40 state seats in Penang; the other three are held by Barisan Nasional (Datuk Muhammad Yusoff Mohd Noor-Sungai Dua, Nor Hafizah Othman-Permatang Berangan) and state PAS secretary Mohd Yusni Mat Piah-Penaga.
Muhammad Yusoff is the State Opposition Leader from Umno.
Penang PPBM chairman Datuk Marzuki Yahya expressed surprise at this turn of events, saying that the duo did not bother to liaise with him.
“They were handpicked by me to contest and now they do this. We are talking about principles here. The two of them are only thinking about themselves.”
Marzuki said if such treacherous acts continued in the Malaysian political scene, the country would be in trouble, especially with the Covid-19) pandemic still a threat.
It was reported that Khalid was appointed as the chairman of the Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda), which oversees the socio-economic growth of the bumiputras mostly on the mainland.
Zolkifli found himself appointed to the board of advisers on the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) council which oversees the investment part of the government-linked company which is entrusted to help young bumiputra pursue education opportunities.