Anti-hopping Bill ‘against federal laws’

The Penang State Assembly

(The Star) – The anti-hopping Bill passed by the Penang State Assembly is unconstitutional and can be challenged in court, experts said.

Constitutional law expert and UiTM Emeritus Professor of law Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi said that Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution clearly stated that all citizens have the right to form associations.

He also pointed out that the Federal Court (then Supreme Court) had ruled in the 1992 case of the Kelantan state assembly versus Nordin Salleh, that an anti-hopping law passed by the state assembly was unconstitutional and not in accordance with Article 10(1)(c).

“Changing one’s party to another party is part of the freedom of association provided for in the Federal Constitution. It is a person’s constitutional right to disassociate or re-associate.

“This law is likely to be challenged in the courts and is clearly in disregard of a binding judicial decision,” he said yesterday.

Article 10 of the Federal Constitution provides for the freedom of speech, assembly and association.

Senior lawyer Roger Tan described the anti-hopping law as a populist move without regard to the sanctity of the Federal Constitution.

“Pakatan Rakyat has always claimed that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. I would have expected the Penang Government to show more respect to it.

“It is also bad governance if the government of the day takes a position that they can do anything they want until and unless it is declared invalid by the courts. This is not helping ordinary citizens to observe the rule of law,” said Tan in reference to the 1992 Federal Court’s decision.

DAP chairman and Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh, meanwhile, said the Penang enactment as it stood was unconstitutional because of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and the verdict in the Nordin Salleh’s case.

“I will file a Private Members’ Bill sometime next week to give it a legality. The Bill is to amend Article 10 to accommodate the anti-hopping provision.

“A Constitutional amendment is necessary. Otherwise the whole amendment will be null and void as Article 10 will still stand,” he said, noting that generally, all Constitutional amendments were made retrospective to Aug 31, 1957.