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With 'totally unfit' speaker and farce democracy, PN told to boycott Parliament

Former law minister slams Johari Abdul's decision not to vacate the seats of the six defecting Bersatu MPs.

3 minute read
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul has come under fire for refusing to declare vacant the seats of six MPs who lost their party membership following defection.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul has come under fire for refusing to declare vacant the seats of six MPs who lost their party membership following defection.

Dewan Rakyat speaker Johari Abdul is "totally unfit" for the role, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim said as condemnation mounts on the decision not to vacate seats of six opposition MPs who defected to the government side despite the anti-hopping law.

Zaid also said that the anti-hopping law was enacted to prevent MPs from betraying the will of the people who elected them.

"If our MPs had a scintilla of morals and ethics and an ample dose of conscience, we need not have gone to great lengths to amend the law. Because they did not, we had to pass the anti-hopping law.

"But what happens when the speaker is incapable of behaving properly and is totally unfit to discharge his duties fairly and effectively?" said Zaid, reacting to news about Johari's decision.

Yesterday, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin said he had been informed by Johari that the six Bersatu men who defected to the government's side were still MPs, and that their seats would not be vacated to pave the way for elections as stipulated under the anti-hopping law.

Muhyiddin, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman, slammed Johari for "defaming the constitution", referring to Article 49A(3), introduced in 2022 following pressure from then opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) to prevent party-hopping by elected representatives.

Under the amendments unanimously passed as part of a deal between PH and the coalition government of then prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, an MP loses his seat if he ceases to be a member of the political party on whose platform he was elected.

The six MPs from Bersatu who chose to declare support for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim recently lost their party memberships in line with its constitution.

However, they refused to vacate the seats, insisting they were still Bersatu members.

Zaid said that under the present circumstances, the opposition should not continue engaging the parliamentary process, adding that it "makes no sense to participate in a mockery". 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Zaid however said he was not surprised by the decision.

"Muhyiddin, opposition leaders and NGOs who want to see democracy strengthened must boycott Parliament. Let Madani rule," he said, referring to the tagline for Anwar's government.

"Do not participate in a farce. Democracy has become a mockery," he added.

The defecting Bersatu men are Zulkafperi Hanafi (Tanjong Karang), Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul (Bukit Gantang), Zahari Kechik (Jeli), Suhaili Abdul Rahman (Labuan), Mohd Azizi Abu Naim (Gua Musang), and Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid (Kuala Kangsar).

The six seats are considered PN strongholds, and any by-election could see them retaken by the coalition, preventing Anwar's government from obtaining a majority support of two-thirds.

Last week, former minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the two-thirds support would be needed for the PH-led government to redraw the electoral map in its favour.

He said carving out more federal seats from strongholds such as Puchong, Bangi and Seputeh would ensure PH's continuity after the next general election.

"These are seats which will vote for PH till kingdom come," Khairy said on his Keluar Sekejap podcast.

Meanwile, Tasek Gelugor MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan agreed that Johari's decision came as no surprise, adding that it completely contradicted what they had fought for not long ago.

"This is the principle he himself fought for when he was the MP. But with positions, people change. Power can change attitudes," he told MalaysiaNow.

A video of Johari's speech in support of the anti-hopping law to prevent MPs from defecting has been making the rounds.

"This is a law that can prevent us from further destroying our country. It doesn't matter whether it's from this side or the other side, this has to stop here. This is what we want because the people are fed up," Johari told the Dewan Rakyat, speaking as the Sungai Petani MP.

Wan Saiful said Bersatu would seek remedy through legal means, adding that the issue was serious as it involved the constitution.