PSSC to refine constitutional amendment bill

Wan Junaidi will be chairing the PSSC with other 10 MPs from both the govt and Opposition bloc

 pic by BERNAMA

THE government and Opposition MPs have agreed for matters relating to the proposed constitutional amendments to be referred to the Parliament Special Select Committee (PSSC) before it is tabled in the next Parliamentary sitting.

The Dewan Rakyat did not vote on the constitutional amendment after reaching a consensus to let PSSC to fine tune the bill. A total of 59 MPs took part in the debate for Constitution (Amendment) Bill (No 3) 2022 which seeks to introduce a new clause, Article 10 (3)(a), that will impose restrictions on MPs and state assemblymen from switching political parties.

During the debate, many have stated their concerns for the clause which is deemed to be too broad and does not specifically address the issue of party hopping.

In his winding up speech of the bill, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said it would be improper if he makes the decision on the bill at the august house by himself yesterday.

“We will propose to form a select committee to refine the bill. Therefore, this speech text will be prepared and handed to the select committee, once it is approved, and it will study the bill that will be formulated,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He said a meeting was held between Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders at 9am yesterday due to the concerns raised by MPs in all quarters regarding the scope of the new clause which needs to be narrowed down.

During the second reading of the bill, Wan Junaidi said the meeting held between the PM and Opposition leaders had agreed on three matters.

The matters are to clearly define the restrictions for MPs to switch parties, proposal to abolish Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution including other amendments to the constitution wherever necessary and to enact laws specific to the ban on party hopping for MPs.

Article 48(6) stipulates that MPs will not be eligible to contest in an election for five years if they vacate their parliamentary seat.

The second day of the special parliamentary sitting scheduled today has been cancelled, following the decision to refer to PSSC for the proposed amendment.

The PSSC will be made up of 11 members namely Wan Junaidi as the chairman, Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (Padang Rengas), Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin (Larut), Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan (Kota Baru), Lukanisman Awang Sauni (Sibuti), Gobind Singh Deo (Puchong), Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution (Kulim-Bandar Baharu), Datuk Darell Leiking (Penampang), Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (Sepang) and Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau (Tuaran).

On top of the three matters agreed upon with the PM, PH leadership council also stated that the constitutional amendment as well as the Anti-Party Hopping Bill will be tabled and approved in a special parliamentary sitting at the end of next month.

“The presidential council reiterated its stance that the Anti-Party Hopping Bill is among the main components in the memorandum of understanding.

“PH is committed to the process in ensuring the constitutional amendment and the Bill will be tabled and approved in the Parliament, to restore the people’s confidence in the election process and secure the democratic future in Malaysia,” the council said in a statement yesterday.

The statement was signed by Madius, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu and Anthony Loke.

Meanwhile, during the debate on the amendment bill, Anwar expressed his agreement for the need to narrow down the definition of the new clause to avoid abuse by certain parties and to respect the democracy system as well as the right to freedom of expression.

“We have proposed for Article 10 (3)(a) to be fine-tuned to ensure the amendment is focused on party-hopping,” he said in his debate.

Azalina highlighted that the new laws to be enacted should not be too broad to ensure MPs are independent in doing their duties and are not restricted by the clause.

She also called for the select committee to bring up the issue of recall remedy to enable the people to decide if they still want to vote for the same representative.

“Therefore, if we do away with Article 48(6), the MP can contest as many times as he or she wants.

“And we will let the public decide if the representative will be elected or not because everyone agrees that it is the people who choose their MPs,” she added.