Monday 22 October 2012

Penang will push ahead with anti-hopping law

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — An amendment to the state constitution will be tabled in the Penang state assembly on November 1 to allow for an anti-hopping law, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.

“The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government will not be deterred by Barisan Nasional’s (BN) support for the culture of political frogs but is determined to table a historic constitutional amendment to push through an anti-hopping law in the Penang state assembly meeting on November 1, 2012.

“The State Legal Adviser has been tasked with the necessary process of gazetting the proposed constitutional amendment,” Lim (picture) said in a statement.

He pointed out that PR has the required two-thirds majority to amend the Penang state constitution as the pact currently holds 29 of the 40 state seats.

“All three parties in Penang PR of PAS, PKR and DAP have also supported the proposed constitutional amendment requiring state assembly members who jump or change their party affiliation to resign and recontest in a by-election,” said the DAP secretary-general.

Lim refuted claims by BN and the MCA yesterday that the “proposed anti-hopping law” is “unconstitutional” and will cause a “constitutional crisis”.

“The Penang state government believes that the anti-hopping law should be within the Federal Constitution for three principal reasons.

“One, it respects the democratic mandate of the people being kingmakers by allowing their constituents to either support or reject the decision of their elected representatives to hop from one party to another. As parliamentary democracy is the basis of our Federal Constitution, the anti-hopping law by reinforcing its democratic character will only serve to strengthen the Federal Constitution.

“Two, the anti-hopping law does not infringe on a person’s right of freedom of association as he or she can join any party subject to a renewal of mandate by the constituents.

“Finally, this will also ensure the practice of political accountability as well as principled values and public integrity in Penang, where elected representatives cannot be traded like a commodity at the highest price.”
In August, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had criticised Lim for practising “double standards” by keeping silent when two Sabah BN lawmakers defected to PR.

Penang MCA secretary Lau Chiek Tuan had also in the same month pointed out the irony of the DAP accepting party-hoppers from Umno and keeping silent on defections by two Sabah MPs.

Both the MCA and Gerakan were referring to MPs Lajim Ukin of Beaufort and Wilfred Bumburing of Tuaran, who had in July left BN and formed new political groups that are PR-friendly.

But Lim said today that BN’s condemnation of the proposed anti-hopping law highlights “stark difference between BN’s focus on party interests and personalities as compared to PR emphasis on policies and people.”

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