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Decision on Sabah MPs is final, says speaker

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul says it's up to Bersatu to take the matter to court.

2 minute read
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul.

The decision that four former Bersatu members need not vacate the seats they won on Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) tickets in the 15th general election (GE15) is final, says Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul.

Johari said he had given all the justifications and grounds for his decision in a letter dated Jan 16 which he sent to Bersatu.

"As I have replied (in the letter to Bersatu)… that’s it (the decision), final. It’s up to Bersatu (to refer to the courts). They have the right to do so," he said when contacted by Bernama today.

Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin had said that the party would refer the matter to court, adding that Johari had erred in ruling that the four MPs did not breach the anti-party hopping law and thus did not have to vacate the Papar, Batu Sapi, Ranau and Sipitang seats in Sabah.

Muhyiddin, in a statement, said Johari’s decision was based on his interpretation of Clause 10.2.3 of the Bersatu constitution although, according to Muhyiddin, the Dewan Rakyat speaker was not empowered to do so and had made a mistake in his interpretation.

Muhyiddin said that in the Jan 16 letter, Johari had reasoned that going by this clause, the four MPs had become direct members of GRS on Oct 27, 2022 and thus had been automatically stripped of their Bersatu membership before contesting GE15 on Nov 19, 2022.

However, the Bersatu president said the clause did not apply to the four MPs as they were Bersatu members and the party was a founding component member of GRS at that time.

Therefore, GRS could not be classified as "another political party" based on the spirit and essence of that clause, said Muhyiddin, the Pagoh MP.

The matter arose after former Sabah Bersatu chief Hajiji Noor announced on Dec 10 that Sabah Bersatu leaders had unanimously decided to leave the party but would remain under GRS.

Bersatu vice-president Ronald Kiandee said in a statement on Dec 29 that the party had sent a notice to Johari confirming that "casual vacancies" had occurred for the four seats in accordance with Article 49A (3) of the Federal Constitution.

The notice named the four MPs as Armizan Mohd Ali (Papar), Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan (Batu Sapi), Jonathan Yasin (Ranau) and Matbali Musah (Sipitang).