Penang CM to table motion triggering by-elections against party-hopping reps

28 May 2020 / 22:49 H.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang hopes to make history by being the first state to successfully trigger by-elections to replace state representatives who change sides.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow will table a motion at the state assembly sitting to make Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) assemblymen Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq of Bertam and Zolkifly Md Lazim of Teluk Bahang vacate their seats to pave the way for by-elections.

Chow told a media conference today that the duo will be compelled to vacate their seats if a majority of the 40-member state assembly votes in favour of his motion.

But even if they lose the vote at the state assembly, it will not be the end yet for Khaliq and Zolkifly. They can still challenge the decision in court. And if they lose again, they can contest the by-elections.

Chow said he already has the support of Penang Bersatu to make the move against the duo.

“Bersatu chairman in Penang senator Datuk Marzuki Yahya has stated that the party’s official stand is to support PH,” he said.

In 2012, a new clause was included in the Penang Constitution that requires state representatives to vacate their seats if they hop to another party.

Chow said the move to expel the two Bersatu assemblymen was in accordance with the Penang Constitutional Enactment (Amendment) 2012.

Similar legislation, popularly billed as anti-party hopping laws, have been tried in other states without success.

If PH succeeds in Penang, it will be a landmark decision.

Earlier this month, Khaliq and Zolkifly announced that they were throwing their support behind Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also prime minister.

Bersatu is in the unique position of having representatives on both sides of the political divide.

PH has until the middle of next year to get the state assembly to sack Khaliq and Zolkifly. Under the Election Act, a by-election is no longer necessary if a seat falls vacant with less than two years left of the incumbent government’s five-year term.

Chow pointed out that following the split in Bersatu, it was agreed that its members who support PH would be considered part of the state government under a PH-plus-Bersatu formula.

In the case of Seberang Jaya asssemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin, whose membership in PKR has been suspended, Chow said a decision would be made only after his party had determined his position.

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