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4 Penang Assemblymen Asked To Vacate State Seats

4 Penang Assemblymen Asked To Vacate State Seats

A verbal vote saw a majority of the Penang state legislative assembly voting for four Bersatu members to vacate their seats.

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Four Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) assemblymen, who withdrew their support for the administration, have been asked to vacate their seats by the Penang state legislative assembly.

The motion was passed with a verbal vote, with the majority of assemblymen supporting the motion.

The four getting the boot are:

  • Bertam assemblyman Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq
  • Teluk Bahang’s Zolkifly Md Lazim
  • Seberang Jaya’s Dr Afif Bahardin
  • Sungai Acheh’s Zulkifli Ibrahim

According to New Straits Times, Khaliq claimed the motion by the government was politically motivated and not done in accordance with the law.

We expected the outcome. We vow to come back stronger.

Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq

Although the four seats are now vacant, a by-election will not be triggered seeing that the term is almost up.

According to the law, a by-election is not needed if the vacancy arises at a date less than two years from the date on which the state assembly’s 5-year mandate is expiring.

However, the Election Commission has yet to respond to this turn of events.

What happened?

The four Bersatu assemblymen decided to leave the Pakatan Harapan coalition in 2020.

Their defection led the Penang state assembly speaker to table a motion for them to vacate their seats and for by-elections to be held since they violated Article 14(A) of the Penang State Constitution.

According to Article 14(a) of the state constitution, a state assemblyman must vacate his seat if he resigns, is stripped of his membership, ceases to be a politician or is chosen as a candidate by another political party.

The matter also brought forth the issue of the constitutionality of Article 14(a) of the state constitution.

The Federal Court has since ruled that Penang’s Article 14A on anti-party hopping does not go against the Federal Constitution.

The four assemblymen argued that Article 14A was unconstitutional, saying the law cannot influence their right to form associations guaranteed by Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.

The seven-member bench of the Apex Court, led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, ruled that the right to change the political party membership of someone who was elected as a representative in the Assembly is not the same as the personal right of a citizen to form associations as envisioned in Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.

In our judgment, an elected representative’s ability to change his membership of a political party does not take on the character of the personal right of a citizen to form associations as envisioned in Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution. It is instead, part and parcel of the proper functioning of Parliamentary democracy, for this to be validly restricted and regulated by laws passed.

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