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Penang High Court to deliver party hopping case decision on Oct 6

14 September 2022

GEORGE TOWN: The High Court has set Oct 6 for its decision on amending the originating summons (OS) for four Penang assemblymen who are facing the prospect of losing their seats under the state's anti-hopping law.

The four had told the court that the law is in violation of their freedom of speech under Article 10(1) A of the Federal Constitution.

Datuk DP Naban, who is representing the four assemblyman, namely Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sungai Acheh), Dr Afif Bahardin (Seberang Jaya), Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (Telok Bahang), said the grounds for their application to amend the OS is that the state's anti-hopping law is unconstitutional.

"It infringes on their freedom of speech because if they were to speak differently, they may be expelled by their party and have to vacate their seats under Article 14A(1) of the Penang State Constitution," he told the court during hearing of submissions for their application to amend their originating summons (OS) on Wednesday (Sept 14).

The four assemblymen had filed three separate OS against the Penang State Assembly and State Assembly Speaker to challenge the constitutionality of Article 14A(1) of the Penang State Constitution, and to stop the four seats concerned from being declared vacant pursuant to Article 14A(1).

Naban also told the court that they did not file a new OS because they are not changing the OS.

He said they are not adding any new facts that will change the OS and that all the original affidavits submitted still apply in this case.

Judicial Commissioner Azizan Md Arshad then said he will deliver a decision via email to both parties on Oct 6 with an e-review for further instructions pertaining to the OS.

The four assemblymen had defected from the Pakatan Harapan government in 2020 but still remained as assemblymen.

They then filed three separate suits against the state legislative assembly and the Speaker to challenge a motion introduced in October 2020 for the four to vacate their seats and by-elections to be held.

The motion, tabled under Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution stipulates that a state assemblyman must vacate his seat if he resigns, is stripped of his membership, ceases to be a politician or is chosen as a candidate by another political party.

The law also stipulates that the state assemblyman is required to vacate his seat if the party is dissolved or its registration cancelled.

Zulkifli and Dr Afif won their seats on PKR tickets but joined Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia while Khaliq Mehtab and Zolkifly are still with Bersatu, which they were elected under.

After their suits, the Speaker of Penang's legislative assembly referred a question to Federal Court on whether Article 14A of Penang Constitution was void for being inconsistent with Article 10(1)(c) of Federal Constitution.

Last month, the Federal Court decided that Article 14A of the state constitution is consistent with Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.

Edited by Lo Tern Chern

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