Amend constitution and declare seat vacant if MP leaves party, Putrajaya told

Selayang MP William Leong Jee Keen speaks to reporters at the Parliament lobby in Kuala Lumpur August 6, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Selayang MP William Leong Jee Keen speaks to reporters at the Parliament lobby in Kuala Lumpur August 6, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — PKR’s Selayang MP William Leong has called for an amendment to the Federal Constitution to prevent those who leave their own party from joining Pakatan Harapan.

An amendment would also accord more power to voters in deciding the fate of these defectors, he said.

In a statement today, Leong said that the amendment is imperative, especially after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had last week said that he preferred a strong Opposition bench to a two-thirds parliamentary majority, with Umno’s acting president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan proposing a restructuring exercise for Umno, to stem the tide of defectors.

“It is time for New Malaysia to return the power to decide whether it is the party bosses or the elected representative that changed, back to the voters. This can be done by substituting Article 48(6) with a provision that provides as follows:

“The seat of a member of parliament shall become vacant if he ceases to be a member of, or resigns from or is expelled from the political party for which he stood in the election,” Leong said in a statement today.

Leong said that while a regularly cited justification for defecting is usually dissatisfaction with the political party of the defectors, the seat the “party-hoppers” stood in to contest belongs to the voters.

“Therefore, the only reasonable solution in a situation where the elected representative feels he has to leave his original party to join another or to be an independent, is to resign as a member of parliament and stand in the ensuing by-election to allow his constituents to decide,” he added.   

Leong however noted that the current legal provisions in the Federal Constitution does not allow such a practice, by way of Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution, which provides that a member of parliament who steps down, is automatically disqualified from contesting for the next five years.

This he said, must be looked into, pending which, PH component parties must ban entry for any defectors from Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) in general.

“It is not whether they are corrupt or not, but by accepting them as members or worse, appointing them to be ministers or to be part of the government, this will betray the voters’ decision to reject Barisan Nasional. Such acceptance will violate the trust and mandate given to Pakatan Harapan.

It is now up to Pakatan Harapan to show that it has the political will to do so. Let this amendment to the Federal Constitution be a Christmas Gift to save Malaysians from the anxiety that May 9 is not a false dawn,” he added.

On December 13, the Sabah chapter of electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 urged PH to reject Opposition state or federal lawmakers who have left their party and expressed a desire to join the ruling coalition.

Calling the move a betrayal of voters and the mandate given to lawmakers in GE14, Sabah Bersih said that PH and Parti Warisan Sabah would be setting a bad precedent if they were to welcome ex-Umno members into their fold and that this would be a great blow to democracy.

Several Umno MPs have jumped ship into PH, mostly to its component led by Dr Mahathir, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).

The move caused alarm and dissatisfaction even within PH, several of whom have cautioned against the move.

On December 12, 14 elected representatives of Sabah Umno and a large number of divisional heads announced that they were quitting the party, citing a loss of trust in the leadership. They included state liaison chief Datuk Hajiji Noor.

The only elected representatives remaining are former chief minister and Sungai Sibuga assemblyman Tan Sri Musa Aman and Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, who was named the new state chief soon after the exodus.