Bersatu haunted by ‘own goal’ in anti-hopping law, says KJ

The former minister says Bersatu rejected a clause in the draft law which could have declared a seat vacant if an MP goes against their party’s stance.

(FMT) – An anti-hopping clause rejected by Bersatu when the law was drafted has returned to haunt the party after four of its MPs pledged support for the Anwar Ibrahim government, says former minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said the draft anti-hopping bill presented to the Cabinet by then law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar contained a provision to declare a seat vacant if an MP went against the party stance or failed to comply with the party whip in the Dewan Rakyat.

Khairy, who was then health minister, said Bersatu was adamantly against the clause, which was subsequently removed from the bill tabled in the Dewan Rakyat. Bersatu was part of the coalition that supported the Ismail Sabri Yaakob government.

“The irony is that the ministers who had opposed the original draft are now the victims” of this lack of the provision, said Khairy in the latest episode of the Keluar Sekejap podcast.

Yesterday, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, described the anti-hopping law as flawed, and called for a review. He said the law contained critical weaknesses that could be exploited by political parties.

Four MPs from Bersatu recently pledged their support for the Anwar Ibrahim government. They are Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid (Kuala Kangsar), Suhaili Abdul Rahman (Labuan), Azizi Abu Naim (Gua Musang) and Zahari Kechik (Jeli).

Bersatu information chief Razali Idris told FMT today that it was an unwritten rule for all opposition MPs to not back the government, adding it was “common sense” and there was no need for elected representatives to be formally informed.

In the Keluar Sekejap podcast, Khairy’s co-host, former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan, said the “loophole” which allowed for opposition MPs to back the government could backfire.

“In theory parties (or individuals) that pledged support for Anwar could one day change their stance without (violating the anti-hopping law) and vacating their seats.”

However, he said it was “not likely to happen”.

Boycotts for Palestine

Separately, Khairy questioned if boycotts over foreign brands such as Starbucks and Nestle, in solidarity with Palestine, would affect their profits. He said foreign brands receive only royalties from Malaysian operations and a boycott would be detrimental to Malaysians who operate the local branches.

However, Shahril said the boycott is justified if it would help a person to stand in solidarity with Palestinian victims.

“It’s my personal view that if any actions to boycott or minimise purchases from these companies can help me to stand in solidarity with the victims in Palestine, that alone is enough for me,” he said.