Penang to push motion to eject reps who cross over

Chow Kon Yeow holds up a copy of Article 14(A) of the Penang constitution during a press conference in Komtar today.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang will push a motion in October to declare vacant the seats of assemblymen who have switched allegiance to other political parties.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state had a right to declare the seats of such assemblymen vacant without a motion, but preferred a more “democratic approach”.

He was responding to de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan, who urged Penang to take action against assemblymen in the state who defected.

Takiyuddin said this on Monday in response to the federal opposition’s call for an anti-hopping law.

“Since Takiyuddin insisted on Penang’s stern action to stop party-hopping, it is one challenge we shall take gladly,” Chow said in a press conference at Komtar today.

Under Penang’s constitution, if a state assemblyman ceases to be a member of the political party on whose ticket he or she won the election, he or she will vacate the seat immediately and polls will be held to elect a new member.

Due to a political realignment at the federal level, state assembly members Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (PPBM) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (PPBM), Dr Afif Bahardin (formerly PKR, now PPBM) and Zulkifli Ibrahim (formerly PKR, now PPBM) switched their allegiance to Perikatan Nasional.

Pakatan Harapan (PH), comprising DAP and PKR, holds 33 seats in the 40-member state assembly. The opposition has four PPBM members, two Umno members and a PAS member.

Chow said while there were case laws that would deem Penang’s sacking of the assemblymen unconstitutional, it was time for the courts to review them.

“The reality is, these assemblymen did not vacate their seats; they have committed an unconstitutional act,” he said, adding that their act was akin to the betrayal of people’s trust, leading to the collapse of the PH government at the federal level.

“You are free to choose the party you like, but don’t take your elected seat along with you. That is a betrayal of people’s trust. You have no freedom to choose a new party once you are elected.”

Separately, Chow said a foreign workers’ dormitory project in Juru, awarded by the Penang Development Corporation, had been cancelled after objections from the public.

The project was for a five-block dorm with 285 rooms to be built by Westlite Dormitory (Penang-Juru) Sdn Bhd, checks on the local government planning permission website show.