What should be the constitutional enabler for a federal party hopping law?

IT IS reported that the special parliamentary sitting on Monday will see the introduction of a constitutional amendment that will allow laws against party hopping to be enforced in the country.

The proposed Constitution (Amendment)(No.3) Act 2022 Bill has yet to be published on the official portal of Parliament. However, copies of the bill, as reported by The Malaysian Insight, were distributed to members of parliament on Thursday.

A copy of the bill can be viewed on Subang MP Wong Chen’s Facebook

It looks like the bill was meant for MPs’ eyes only.

Be that as it may, the proposed constitutional amendment seeking to amend Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and introduce a new Clause 3A, which reads as follow;

“Notwithstanding paragraph (c) of Clause (2) and Clause (3) restrictions on the right to form associations conferred by paragraph (c) of Clause (1) relating to membership in a political party of members of the House of Representatives and members of the State Legislative Assembly may also be imposed by federal law.”

It looks like the concerns raised by lawyer New Sin Yew that the proposed clause is dangerous as it gives the government power to “control” political parties is valid.

The proposed restrictions on the constitutional right to freedom of association which may be imposed by federal law looks dangerously wide to include anything relating to membership in a political party. This will allow laws beyond just party hopping.

It will be regressive.

Any constitutional amendment to enable a federal anti-party hopping law should be considered under Chapter 4 (on Federal Legislature) of the Federal Constitution.This can either be a new Article 49A, as has been proposed earlier, or a new clause under Article 48 (on Disqualification for membership of Parliament). 

Such a clause can provide that notwithstanding paragraph (c) of Clause (1) and Clause (3) of Article 10, Parliament may by law disqualify a member of the House of Representatives and a member of the State Legislative Assembly if he ceases to be, other than by way of expulsion, a member of, or resigns from, the political party for which he stood in the election.

Or, something to that effect.

That should be the constitutional enabler to a federal law on party hopping, instead of the wide powers proposed with Clause (3A) of Article 10.

Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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