The Federal Court: Penang’s anti-hopping law is constitutional


Penang’s anti-hopping law constitutional, rules Federal Court

V Anbalagan

August 3, 2022 2:14 PM

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has declared that an anti-hopping enactment passed by the Penang legislative assembly in 2012 is constitutional.

A seven-member bench chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said Article 14A of the state constitution is also not void as it is consistent with Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.

“In our view, the respondent (the state legislature) was entitled to enact the law to determine membership qualification,” she said.

This issue came about in 2020 after four Penang assemblymen filed an action to challenge a motion introduced by the state assembly’s speaker for them to vacate their seats and for by-elections to be held, after they defected from Pakatan Harapan.


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

In the oral ruling, Tengku Maimun said the Federal Constitution did not guarantee elected assemblymen the fundamental right to change political party membership.

“The right to be members or remain as members is not guaranteed under Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution. Membership is determined by federal or state constitutions,” she added.

The top judge said the ability of elected representatives to change their membership of a political party was part and parcel of parliamentary democracy.

She said changing membership also could not take the character of ordinary citizens on their right to freedom of association.

“As such, it can be validly restricted and passed by the legislature,” she added.

In today’s judgment, Tengku Maimun said the nature of elected representatives, once in the legislature, took a different character, in that their personal right to associate must be based on the mandate given by the electorate.

The bench then directed the Penang High Court judge to proceed with a hearing in accordance with today’s judgment or otherwise in accordance with the law.

Others on the bench were Nallini Pathmanathan, Vernon Ong, Mary Lim, Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal, Rhodzariah Bujang and Zabidin Mohd Diah.





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