Anti-hopping law was rushed and flawed, says Azhar Harun

The former Dewan Rakyat speaker says the law did not consider the complexities of party-switching and related dynamics inside and outside Parliament.

(FMT) – Former Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Harun said he was not “too happy” with the way the anti-hopping law was enacted in 2022.

Azhar said the amendment to Article 49 of the Federal Constitution, better known as the anti-hopping law, was implemented hastily without considering the various dynamics involved.

“I expressed my concerns to a few MPs, including Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who was the law minister at that time,” he said in a talk show hosted by Bersatu MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan yesterday.

“It was because we didn’t consider the dynamics of ‘hopping’ as an action as well as other dynamics in the Dewan (Rakyat) and outside.”

The anti-hopping law, aimed at discouraging MPs from switching parties, came into force on Oct 5, 2022, after being passed on July 28 the same year

When the bloc vote was called, 209 MPs voted in favour, with none against and 11 absentees.

Azhar also said there were various situations that could be interpreted as “hopping”, sharing his experiences during Muhyiddin Yassin’s tenure as prime minister.

He recalled meeting a delegation of MPs who said they did not support the prime minister but backed the government.

He said there were also situations when MPs attended sittings, they remained silent, refused to debate and walked out when unhappy with issues, citing the budget as an example.

He also had to manage seating arrangements for MPs who did not want to sit with other government MPs.

“So, I had to find a seat for that MP, which was neither with the government nor the opposition,” he said, without naming the person.

Contacted by FMT, Wan Junaidi said he “can’t comment” on the issues raised by Azhar.