Sabah Moves to Outlaw Party Hopping

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KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor, in a landmark move, proposed an amendment to the State Constitution at the State Assembly sitting today, aimed at preventing the disruptive practice of ‘party-hopping’ among state assembly members.

“This amendment serves to address the political instability often caused by switching parties or ‘party-hopping’ among assembly members.

“The government views this action seriously, as it involves the mandate and trust of the people who have elected their representatives in the State Assembly,” he said when tabling the proposed Bill.

The proposed legislation, known as the Constitution of the State of Sabah (Amendment) 2023, will prohibit assemblymen from switching parties from the time of its enactment, and will not be applied retroactively.

“Members who leave their political party to join another party, within the same coalition or a different one, will cease to be members of the State Assembly. This amendment will provide a definitive measure to curb such political manoeuvres,” he said.

However, exceptions are in place for instances where a member’s political party is disbanded or its registration is cancelled, when a member is elected as the Speaker of the State Assembly, or when a member is dismissed from a political party.

Additionally, the amendment is set to offer updated definitions and rules within the political framework.

“We aim to align the definition of ‘Federation’ with that in the Federal Constitution and provide clear definitions for ‘unexpected vacancy’ and ‘political party’,” he said.

The Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (PGRS) president also stressed the primary principle of individual membership in a political party, asserting, that the fundamental question that forms the basis of this law is the membership of an assemblyman in a political party, not in a coalition.

“This proposed amendment is also expected to bring change for independent candidates. The same rules apply to independent candidates who, after being elected to the Assembly, join a political party,” Hajiji clarified.

Voicing his strong belief in the positive impact of the proposed law, Hajiji Noor said he is confident that this amendment will prevent any assemblyman from switching parties without strong reason or justifiable cause, thus ensuring political stability in the State for a long period.

He emphasised the need for unanimous support from all assemblymen, as the amendment requires a two-thirds majority approval in line with Clause (2) of Article 43 of the State Constitution.

“I highly hope that this amendment can be unanimously supported and approved by all State Assembly members. Your support is greatly appreciated,” he said.

Hajiji also proposed the removal of clause 6(7) of the Constitution of the State of Sabah as it was deemed that clause 6(3) is sufficient when appointing the chief minister for Sabah. The clause 6(7) was inserted in the Sabah State Constitution (Amendment) 5/1990.

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