4 PPBM reps drop bid to halt state assembly from vacating seats

Bertam assemblyman Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (right) and lawyer Rosli Dahlan leaving the High Court in George Town, Penang, today.

GEORGE TOWN: Four former Pakatan Harapan (PH) assemblymen today decided to drop an application for a court order to prevent the Penang assembly speaker from vacating their seats under the state’s anti-hopping law.

The four are Dr Afif Bahardin (Seberang Jaya), Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sungai Acheh), Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (Telok Bahang).

Afif and Zulkifli, previously from PKR, have joined PPBM. Khaliq and Zolkifly of PPBM, who were elected on PH tickets during the 14th general election, remain in the party, which is no longer part of PH.

At the High Court today, it was revealed that the four had sought a court ruling on whether Article 14A of the Penang Constitution is in line with the Federal Constitution and, in the meantime, to allow an injunction against the speaker from vacating their seats.

The article allows those who had switched parties or stopped being party members when they were elected to be ejected from the assembly, paving the way for fresh elections in their constituencies.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state government would not push for a motion to vacate the four seats, citing the spike in Covid-19 cases. He said he did not want a four-by-election scenario to happen.

However, Chow said the state government would attempt to remove them again when the situation improved.

The lawyer for the four assemblymen, Rosli Dahlan, told the High Court today that they had decided to drop the application for an injunction against Speaker Law Choo Kiang from allowing the motion to vacate their seats in view of Chow’s announcement.

Rosli said a settlement has been reached between his clients and the state government, where the latter would withdraw the motion altogether and would give 14 days’ notice if it was planning to submit such a motion again.

State legal adviser Norazmi Mohd Narawi reiterated that the chief minister had already decided to drop the motion to vacate their seats. He also agreed with the 14 days’ notice requested by the four.

Today’s proceedings were carried out in two separate courts, after three separate suits were filed – one by Khaliq and Zokifly, and one each by Afif and Zulkifli.

Rosli asked for all applications to be consolidated and heard in one court.

Judicial commissioners Wong Hok Chong and Amarjeet Serjit Singh set Nov 26 for case management.