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10 APRIL 2024

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Four Bersatu MPs case might land in court


The thorny issue faced by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul of the present government would be to determine the legitimacy of the four Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) MPs who were with Sabah Bersatu before.

As usual, members of the legal fraternity are not sharing a common opinion. Yes, as duly expected, they differ. Diversity, after all, is the hallmark of legal minds.

By virtue of Article 49A (3) of the Federal Constitution, the speaker is given 21 days from the date of the receipt of the notification for the issue to be decided.

The former Padang Rengas MP Nazri Abdul Aziz-in his latest statement- is of the view that the four MP seats are not vacated and remain intact.

Prior to this, former law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was of the same opinion, though in an earlier statement, he opined that the four MPs should have vacated their respective seats.

The lawyers from Perikatan Nasional are of the view that the anti-hopping law bites the four MPs. Hence, their seats ought to be declared vacant.

Nazri Abdul Aziz

Truth be told, I have difficulties forming any view. Apparently, as far as I am concerned, there are some disputed facts.

After all, I am not privy to the true factual matrix of the matter.

For instance, there were media reports which stated that the said four MPs had crossed over to GRS from Sabah Bersatu Sabah prior to GE15.

Apparently, in substituting his original opinion, Wan Junaidi, inter alia, relied on this fact.

Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

One of the four MPs contended that he had never left Sabah Bersatu. He has joined GRS as one of its members in that the GRS' constitution duly accepts an individual membership.

The popular report in the media seems to suggest that Sabah Bersatu was abolished and all of the leaders and members of the party - the four MPs included- have joined GRS en bloc.

In defending his view that the seats of the four MPs still remain intact, Nazri advanced this argument - all the four MPs who contested in GE15 were contesting under the banner of GRS, having been given the "watikah" (appointment letter) from GRS’ chairperson, no hopping took place.

With due respect, though Nazri's view is quite fair, there are, unfortunately, some flaws, in my view.

From Nazri's view, one may solicit this question. Assuming Sabah Bersatu was not part of GRS from the start, could have the four MPs been allowed to contest using the GRS banner?

Despite the fact that the GRS' constitution allows an individual membership, is such a framework valid and legal under the Societies Act?

One may argue that a political party and political coalition are poles apart.

Differing views

Let us, for the sake of argument, take another scenario. When any PKR MP, for instance, contested under the Pakatan Harapan banner, could he be allowed to contest under Harapan's ticket assuming PKR was never in Harapan in the first place?

So, the same question, I’m afraid, is being raised in respect of the said four MPs.

Could they be absolutely freed from Bersatu's seats despite the fact they were fielded under GRS' banner?

To avoid jumping the gun, it would be polite, in my view, for all of us to wait for the decision from the speaker.

As far as I’m concerned, irrespective of the speaker’s decision, there would be a strong likelihood that this issue might possibly land in the court of law for clarity purposes. - Mkini

MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN is a former Sepang MP.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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