Sarawak to study existing anti-hopping provision to align with Federal Constitution

Abang Johari (seated centre) fielding questions from the press.

By Karen Bong and Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Aug 6: Sarawak already has a provision under Article 17 in the State Constitution against party-hopping, but it will need to be reviewed to be aligned with the latest anti-hopping law passed in Parliament before the legislation can be implemented and enforced.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said that the Sarawak State Attorney-General will study the existing provision under Article 17 for any lacking or grey areas that may require improvement through an amendment to keep it in line with the law adopted at the Federal level.

“We have been briefed on the anti-hopping law. In fact, Sarawak is the first to have this legislation as there is already a provision in the Sarawak Constitution under Article 17 where we do not encourage party-hopping or (political) ‘frog’.

“But we (Sarawak) were unable to implement as it contradicted with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution in terms of freedom of association,” he explained after chairing a Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Supreme Council meeting at PBB headquarters in Jalan Bako here today.

Abang Johari, who is also PBB president, emphasised that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) supports the anti-hopping law and what needs to be done now is to study the existing provisions so that it will be aligned with the provisions that have been passed in Parliament.

“We have asked our AG (Attorney-General) to look into it. If there is any lacking or shortage and if there is a need to amend, we can make an amendment.

“So this means we are in line with the objectives (of anti-hopping), while the other matters are on the technicality,” he elaborated.

However, Abang Johari said it is unlikely that any amendment to the State Constitution will be tabled in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting in November.

The historic Constitution (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 2022 on provisions prohibiting elected lawmakers from switching parties was passed with a two-thirds majority on July 28.

All top leaders of PBB, including Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, permanent chairman Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar, Pemuda chief Miro Simuh and Women chief Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, were present. — DayakDaily