4 ex-Bersatu MPs in GRS have vacated their seats, claims party

(FMT) – Bersatu says four of its former MPs in the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) have vacated their seats.

It said it has sent a “notice” to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker informing him that there are “casual vacancies” involving the MPs, who contested in the general election as Bersatu members.

The four MPs – Armizan Ali (Papar), Khairul Firdaus Akhbar Khan (Batu Sapi), Jonathan Yasin (Ranau) and Matbali Musah (Sipitang) – had said earlier that they were leaving Bersatu to form a new party.

In a statement today, Bersatu vice-president Ronald Kiandee said the party had also requested the Speaker to notify the Election Commission (EC) of the matter within 21 days of the notice’s receipt.

He said the vacancies “will have to be filled within 60 days from the date the EC receives the notification from the Speaker”.

Kiandee said the four had sat with the government bloc during the Dec 19 Dewan Rakyat sitting.

The act of “crossing the floor”, he said, violated their election promise to voters.

“As a result, they are no longer Bersatu members in accordance with Bersatu’s constitution, and this matter has been notified (to them) through Bersatu’s letter dated Dec 21.

“Therefore, according to Article 49A(3) of the Federal Constitution, the said Dewan Rakyat members must cease to become members of the house and their seats should be vacated.”

Under the anti-hopping law, which is an amendment to Article 49A of the Federal Constitution, MPs will lose their seats if they move to another party. Exceptions will be given to MPs who are sacked by their party or if their party is dissolved or deregistered.

However, a MP will first have to submit a written notice to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker that a “casual vacancy” has occurred.

In his statement, Kiandee insisted that the four MPs were Bersatu members when nominated as candidates, citing a letter Sabah Bersatu had sent to party president Muhyiddin Yassin before GE15.

In the letter, Sabah Bersatu was said to have informed Muhyiddin that it would field six candidates for GE15 on the GRS ticket. Kiandee said this was proof that the four GRS MPs were Bersatu candidates.

On Dec 10, GRS chairman Hajiji Noor announced that Sabah Bersatu leaders and their supporters were leaving Bersatu.

He said the “unanimous decision” by the Sabah Bersatu leaders to quit the party was based on the premise that the status quo was “no longer tenable” after GRS became part of the unity government led by Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim.

Bersatu is in the opposition at the federal level.

GRS deputy chairman Jeffrey Kitingan then said the four MPs who quit Bersatu did not party-hop as they had contested GE15 under GRS’ ticket.

Maintaining that their status as MPs should not be disputed, he said their “surat watikah” (appointment letters) for GE15 was from GRS, not Bersatu.

Citing how the four had become GRS members on Oct 27, Kitingan said this effectively meant they had ceased to be Bersatu members as a clause in Bersatu’s constitution stated that one’s membership would be terminated immediately if they joined another party.