Opposition MPs’ Support for Prime Minister Deemed Inconsistent with Anti-Party Hopping Act, Azalina Clarifies

Opposition MPs’ Support for Prime Minister Deemed Inconsistent with Anti-Party Hopping Act, Azalina Clarifies

KUALA LUMPUR: Amidst the recent show of support from some opposition Members of Parliament for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his newly formed Unity Government, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, has emphasized that such backing does not violate the Anti-Party Hopping Act or the Constitution (Amendment) Act (No. 3) 2022 (Act A1663).

Azalina contends that the Anti-Party Hopping Act is specifically concerned with actual defections, and the current expressions of support by MPs fall outside its scope. She pointed out that discussions leading to the enactment of the Anti-Party Hopping Act in previous sessions focused on leaving the party for which an individual contested. In the present scenario, MPs are asserting that they are not abandoning their parties but merely extending support.

“It’s not party hopping; they are providing support, and the government has already been formed,” Azalina stated during her appearance on the Suara Anak MADANI program at the National Arts, Culture, and Heritage Academy (ASWARA).

However, Azalina, who also serves as the UMNO Information Chief, acknowledged that individual parties still retain the right to take disciplinary action based on internal decisions. She referenced Tan Sri Dr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law), who proposed the act last year. According to him, supporting the government without defecting does not run afoul of the relevant constitutional amendment.

The Constitution (Amendment) Act (No. 3) 2022, which prevents Members of the House of Representatives from switching parties, came into effect on October 5, 2022, following approval by the House of Representatives on July 28 of the same year.

Addressing allegations from the opposition, including claims of inducements offered to MPs, Azalina vehemently denied any wrongdoing. The latest addition to opposition MPs expressing support for the Prime Minister is Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal, making him the fifth to do so after Zahari Kechik (Jeli), Mohd Azizi Abu Naim (Gua Musang), Datuk Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid (Kuala Kangsar), and Datuk Dr. Suhaili Abdul Rahman (Labuan).

While Azalina appreciates the political landscape, she encourages opposition MPs to provide more nuanced criticisms in the House of Representatives, emphasizing intellectual discussion over divisive rhetoric. She emphasized the importance of adhering to the Westminster System and having a Shadow Cabinet for constructive policy debates.

“It’s more about intellectual discussion, and for me, the Malaysian people are a rational group, and they can choose,” Azalina concluded during the Suara Anak MADANI program.

— DG

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