Bersatu MPs Supporting the Prime Minister Must Vacate Their Seats

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) refers to the decision by the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Johari Abdul, stating that the positions of six Bersatu Members of Parliament (MPs) who defied the party’s directives remain as Members of Parliament (MP). The six MPs are the MPs for Bukit Gantang, Kuala Kangsar, Labuan, Tanjong Karang, Gua Musang (who is also the Nenggiri State Assemblyman), and Jeli.

BERSIH asserts that the Speaker has erred in understanding the mechanism of the Anti-Hopping Law (AHL) and has disregarded the principles and intentions behind the enactment of this law, which may lead to political instability in the future.

This situation raises concerns about the effectiveness of the law in achieving its original goal of ensuring political stability in the country.

Article 49A(1) of the Federal Constitution outlines three reasons for a Member of the Dewan Rakyat to cease holding office: switching parties, resigning from party membership, or no longer being a party member.

At least four of the six Bersatu MPs (Bukit Gantang, Kuala Kangsar, Labuan, and Tanjong Karang) had their membership revoked for failing to comply with the Supreme Council of Bersatu’s directive not to support the Prime Minister. Bersatu amended its party constitution to stipulate that any Bersatu member who is an elected representative in the House of Representatives or State Legislative Assembly who does not follow the Supreme Council’s directives will immediately lose their membership.

An infographic from the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) explaining the AHL mechanism clearly describes the implications of not adhering to party decisions. The infographic slide provides an example where non-compliance with party decisions, according to the party’s constitution, means those members are considered to have switched parties and must vacate their seats.

It should be noted that Bersatu’s constitutional amendment to include the provision for automatic membership termination for non-compliance with party directives is similar to amendments made by DAP, AMANAH, and UMNO.

Thus, the Speaker should respect the party constitution of Bersatu and other political parties, especially in aligning the enforcement of this Act.

Additionally, the enactment of the Anti-Party Hopping Act [Act A1663] and the amendment to the Federal Constitution [Constitution (Amendment) Act (No. 3) 2022] was also one of BERSIH’s demands, followed by the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the Opposition in 2021, which received the support of 209 Members of Parliament at the time.

Therefore, BERSIH believes the Speaker has missed an opportunity to enforce and strengthen this Act, supported by two-thirds of the Dewan Rakyat, when it was tested for the first time in the nation’s political history. The Speaker’s decision will once again create legal loopholes and erode public confidence in the sanctity of the constitution and the rule of law, principles that underpin the National Principles (Rukun Negara).

This decision will also further sharpen the divide between the Government and the Opposition, making professional cooperation for reforms more difficult, and freeing Parliament from the constraints of the Executive body, thereby reinforcing the perception that the government is more interested in maintaining power than doing the right thing.

Released by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH