The Sabah legislative assembly yesterday passed the Constitution of the State of Sabah (Amendment) Enactment 2023 aimed at preventing party-hopping by state-elected representatives.
The bill garnered majority support from the assemblymen after it was tabled by Chief Minister Hajiji Noor, with 75 supporting, while four were absent.
Based on Article 43 of the Sabah state constitution, any amendment to the constitution cannot be passed by the legislative assembly unless it has been supported on the second and third readings by a two-thirds majority vote.
During the second reading, state opposition leader Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Senallang) proposed a bloc vote for the 2nd clause of the bill aimed at deleting Article 6 (7) from the state constitution.
Four clauses in the bill were approved with a majority vote, while the bloc vote for Clause 2 was supported by 61 assemblymen who agreed that Article 6(7) of the State Constitution should be deleted. Fourteen disagreed, while four assemblymen were absent.
For the third reading of the bill, a total of 75 assemblymen expressed support, while four assemblymen were absent.
Hajiji, when winding up the debate on the motion said the bill aimed to delete Article 6(7) in the Sabah state constitution because it was no longer in line with the requirements under Article 6(3) following current political developments.
Article 6(3), among others, states that the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah shall appoint as chief minister a member of the legislative assembly who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the assembly.
Article 6(7), meanwhile, states that the leader of a political party that has won a majority of the elected seats of the legislative assembly in a general election and who is a member of the assembly shall be the one who is likely to command the confidence of the majority.
Explaining further, Hajiji said since the 14th general election in 2018, no political party had obtained a majority to govern the state and since then, the state government has been administered by a coalition of political parties.
"…the state government since 2018 has been a coalition government, so this does not meet the requirements of Article 6(7).
"This (amendment) makes it easier for the TYT (Yang Dipertua Negeri Sabah) to make discretionary decisions, (on) who gets the support of the majority... and for the TYT to decide (on a situation) of the position of the coalition and the support of the assemblymen when the support (of a party) does not exceed 50%," he said.
Meanwhile, he said yesterday's amendment does not involve appointed assemblymen as they are not voted in by the electorate and do not have a constituency to represent.
Sabah has a total of 79 assemblymen of which 73 are elected and six appointed. The amendments stipulate that assembly members who switch parties will forfeit their position in the assembly and have to vacate their seats.