JULY 11 — Article 49A(3) of the Federal Constitution says that whenever the Speaker receives a written notice from any MP on the occurrence of a casual vacancy among the MP or MPs, “the Speaker shall establish that there is such a casual vacancy and notify the Election Commission accordingly within twenty one days from the date he received the written notice.”

Article 49A has mandated the Speaker to establish the casual vacancy under the anti-hopping provision of the Constitution.

Article 49A is Clause 4 of the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2022 (DR 15/2022). The Explanatory Statement to the Bill explains the Clause as follows:

“Clause 4 seeks to introduce a new Article 49A into the Federal Constitution to provide that a member of the House of Representatives shall cease to be a member of that House and his seat to become vacant immediately on a date a casual vacancy is established by the Speaker under clause (3) of the new Article 49A if having been elected to the House of Representatives as a member of a political party, he resigns or ceases to be member of that political party. The same shall also apply to an independent candidate, who, having been elected to the House of Representatives, joins a political party.

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Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul. Article 49A has mandated the Speaker to establish the casual vacancy under the anti-hopping provision of the Constitution. — Bernama pic
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul. Article 49A has mandated the Speaker to establish the casual vacancy under the anti-hopping provision of the Constitution. — Bernama pic

“A casual vacancy of the House of Representatives shall be established by the Speaker upon receiving a written notice from any member of that House on the occurrence of such vacancy....”

An illustration to the above reads as follows:

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“On 2 February 2022, the Speaker of the House of Representative received a written notice from A, a member of the House of Representatives, informing that B, another member of the House of Representatives, has resigned as member of his political party on 1 January 2022. Thereafter the Speaker must establish whether there is a casual vacancy within twenty-one days from 2 February 2022, that is, on or before 23 February 2022.”

It is clear from the above that the Speaker is mandated or empowered to establish a casual vacancy in the Dewan Rakyat.

Not the court.

But not unlike the court, the Speaker is the arbiter. He has to be independent, and a fearless arbiter.

Yet, who gave that mandate or power in the first place?