With mere SDs, will Muhyiddin face backdoor govt reputation again?
Groups, observers highlight loophole in anti-hopping law allows MPs sacked by party to retain seats
(The Vibes) – The legitimacy of a government formed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would again be put into question if he proceeds with securing a simple majority through statutory declarations (SD), political observers and civil society groups said.
The groups and observers suggested the method of collecting individual signatures could see Perikatan Nasional (PN) being accused of leading another “backdoor government” – as the coalition was not the one that won the most seats in the recent general election.
Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun noted that Muhyiddin could be taking advantage of specific gaps in the anti-party hopping law, otherwise known as The Constitution (Amendment) (No. 3) Act 2022, to lure Umno reps into supporting PN.
“Yes, apparently there is a loophole in anti-hopping laws such that MPs sacked by their parties could still retain their seats,” Oh said in response to whether he believed Muhyiddin was using a similar strategy as the one he used to become prime minister during the infamous Sheraton Move.
The question fielded to Oh was about the reported collection of SDs from 10 Umno MPs, which was later nullified by party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
This comes amid criticism that PN and its apparent new allies such as Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) did not have sufficient numbers to form a government as they collectively have a maximum of 108 seats combined, which is four short of the 112 needed for a simple majority.
However, Oh noted that Umno MPs who back Muhyiddin could still retain their seats and become independent MPs if they were sacked from the party.
“Only if they (MPs) leave their parties on their own accord would their seats be vacated,” Oh said.
“So in theory, these Umno MPs could still declare their support for Muhyiddin.”
Human rights consultant and former Malaysian Human Rights Commission commissioner Jerald Joseph said that individual SDs form part of the old framework that led to the party hopping by MPs during the Sheraton Move.
“That was what pushed the anti-hopping law. So negotiations should now be between parties. And MPs should decide within their party framework,” Joseph said when contacted.
“If not, it will seem like the old days when individuals could decide to keep jumping ship.”