Fears of Bersatu senators blocking anti-hopping bill

Growing tensions between Umno and Bersatu have led to fears that senators nominated by Bersatu might block passage of the anti-hopping bill in the upper house.

(FMT) – The bill, which was approved by the Dewan Rakyat last month, will be tabled for debate in the Dewan Negara on Tuesday.

Sources close to the matter told FMT there were concerns that the 12 senators from Bersatu would leverage their numbers to block the bill in the interest of the party.

“Such concerns were raised to me by a federal minister’s office,” said a political leader who asked to remain anonymous. “If these senators pull such a stunt, then they are putting the party’s interests above the nation’s. This would be most irresponsible, selfish and infantile.”

The move comes in the wake of reports that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was prepared to call a general election if Perikatan Nasional withdrew support for his government.

Tension between Ismail and PN has reportedly increased with the Bersatu-led coalition accusing the prime minister of failing to fulfil several promises made to it, including the appointment of a deputy prime minister.

However, Bersatu has denied a news report of such a pullout.

There are 58 senators, including the 12 from Bersatu. Two more Bersatu members are expected to be sworn in as senators tomorrow.

The anti-hopping bill, a constitutional amendment, will require approval by two-thirds of the senators, or 47 votes. Without Bersatu’s 14 votes, there would only be 44 at most in favour.

“If we do the maths, the situation is slim. But I am certain they will put the nation’s interest above the party’s,” said the political leader.

Meanwhile, a government source with knowledge on the matter said “I have heard of it” when asked about talk that Bersatu senators may vote against the bill.

“I understand that the law minister (Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar) will be meeting with all senators tomorrow (Monday) to ensure their support,” said the source, who also asked to be anonymous.