The Penang Constitutional Enactment (Amendment) Bill 2012 was tabled and passed in the state legislative assembly today to curb elected representatives from party-hopping on their free will.

The enactment was passed by 27 of the 31 assemblypersons, with the four Umno assemblypersons present declining to vote.

lim guan eng interview 260512 04Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said tabling the Bill was a "historical" act that included a significant amendment to the state constitution to enable the law to be implemented.

This, Lim said, was to address the "unhealthy and unethical" culture of switching political parties for personal gain, to promote integrity, accountability and to return to the people the power to choose their state assemblypersons.

"We have witnessed the country in chaos when the federal government seized power from the states in an undemocratic manner, through (acts of) betrayal by party members," Lim said when tabling the Bill

"Other than leaving the party for personal gain, those involved have also betrayed the trust of the people who elected them into office," he added.

No respect for mandate of people in three states

Lim then cited three states where the people's mandate had not been respected - in Sarawak in 1966, Sabah (1994) and Perak (2009).

Such situations should not be repeated, while similar and recurring acts should be made illegal, he said.

Lim said the enactment was drafted by the three component parties of Pakatan Rakyat and based on three important principles:
  • Sovereignty of the people under the parliamentary democratic system, with the people having the right to choose their representatives;
  • Freedom of association for the elected representative, but he or she should vacate the seat if party-hopping during the tenure; and
  • On the principle of accountability, elected representatives must be responsible to their voters.
Vacate seat even if switching to be ‘Independent'

The enactment includes a Section 14A, ‘Members who change political parties', which requires a state assemblyperson from a particular party who is elected by the people to vacate the seat if he or she switches party or stops being a party member for whatever reason.

A person elected as an Independent member must also vacate the seat if that person joins a political party.

However, Section 14A exempts an elected representative from vacating the seat if his or her party membership is ended by the disbanding of the party or by the cancellation of its registration.

It also includes a situation for a elected representative to give up party membership if he or she is picked as the speaker of the state legislative assembly. - Malaysiakini, 1/11/2012, Anti-hopping law passed by Penang assembly