Anti-hopping law: Original draft covered loopholes but rejected by four cabinet ministers – Wan Junaidi

11 Nov 2023 07:00am
Wan Junaidi
Wan Junaidi

SHAH ALAM - The action of four opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) expressing support for the government is seen as a new version of 'party hopping.'

Former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) at that time, Tan Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had already predicted in 2021 that this trend would happen.

The Dewan Negara Speaker revealed that he had then warned the Cabinet about it during the administration of the ninth Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Wan Junaidi said the warning was given when he presented the draft of the proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution related to the Anti-Hopping Law in a Cabinet meeting on April 10, 2022.

"At that time, I had already identified any possible loopholes in the draft based on my intensive study of how similar acts are practiced in Britain, India, New Zealand, and Singapore," he said.

“Among the possibilities is any MPs could express support for the opposing bloc in the House of Representatives even if they do not leave the party.

"When I led a special team to draft amendments to the Federal Constitution related to the Anti-Hopping Law in September 2021, I had already addressed any form of possible loopholes through the original draft of the proposed bill.

"However, the Cabinet rejected the original draft prepared in April 2022 following the disagreement of four cabinet ministers with one of the clauses included.

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"That clause states that if an MP changes support in the Dewan Rakyat to the opposing bloc, they will still be considered as party hopping even if they do not declare leaving or are expelled from the party.

"When the cabinet rejected the original draft, I had to renegotiate with all political parties and revamp it," he told Sinar Premium on Friday.

Wan Junaidi said this in response to the action of four Bersatu MPs who openly declared their support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim since last month.

However, the decision of Datuk Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid (Kuala Kangsar), Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman (Labuan), Mohd Azizi Abu Naim (Gua Musang), and Zahari Kechik (Jeli) did not cause them to lose their status as representatives.

This was because they decided to remain with the party, and at the same time, Bersatu did not make a decision to dismiss the representatives.

Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi rejected the view that the existing rift was due to weaknesses while drafting the relevant bill.

Instead, he claimed that the weakness of the Anti-Hopping Law was the 'result of the MPs who rejected the original draft proposal for a stricter and comprehensive bill.'

"I myself was involved in many engagement sessions to discuss this bill with MPs from each party, but at that time, the Bersatu whip did not support the original draft.

"With the Cabinet still wanting approval for the Anti-Hopping Law to be achieved by consensus, I had no other choice. I had to agree when a new draft of the bill prepared by the Attorney General to replace my original draft was finally presented to the House of Representatives," he explained.

The former Santubong MP said that the question of reviewing the Anti-Hopping Law was entirely at the discretion of the government.

Moreover, Wan Junaidi also suggested that political parties amend their party constitutions by including a clause that automatically cancels membership if any member acts contrary to the party's wishes.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said that some MPs rejected Wan Junaidi's original proposal for the Anti-Hopping Law might be due to them taking into account the political situation at the time the act was drafted.

"The Parliament Speaker appointed during the administration of the PN government and the Keluarga Malaysia era was not among the political figures. The situation was not like now when the Speaker is a strong figure in the Prime Minister's party," said the Masjid Tanah MP.