Penang calls off move to force 4 reps to vacate seats

(FMT) – The state government today said it will not push for the expulsion of four Perikatan Nasional assemblymen who crossed over from Pakatan Harapan (PH) to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in a potential four-by-election scenario.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state executive council made this decision yesterday following concerns over the spike in Covid-19 cases.

Chow had announced last month the tabling of a motion to invoke Article 14A of the Penang Constitution, which deals with party-hopping, to force the four assemblymen to vacate their seats when the state assembly reconvenes on Monday.

The four are Afif Bahardin (Seberang Jaya), Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sungai Acheh), Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (Telok Bahang).

Afif and Zulkifli, previously from PKR, have joined PPBM. Khaliq and Zolkifly of PPBM, who were elected on PH tickets during GE14, remain in the party, which is no longer part of PH.

At a press conference at Komtar today, Chow said that while the government was confident it would obtain enough votes to oust the four, the move to vacate their seats would be postponed to another time “when a by-election is possible in a healthier climate”.

He said the state took cognisance of the recently concluded Sabah election, which led to a spike in Covid-19 cases nationwide.

“We stand guided by our paramount consideration that the citizens’ public health and safety must come first,” he said.

“We are not dropping the motion. We will do so probably at the next assembly meeting, or perhaps when the public health situation is better.”

PH, comprising DAP, PKR and Amanah, has 33 assemblymen in the 40-member state assembly.