KOTA KINABALU (May 26): Parti Warisan (Warisan) has proposed for a special committee be set up at the state level that functions like a Parliamentary Select Committee to review Article 6 (7) of the Sabah State Constitution to ensure that the process of selecting a Chief Minister is more orderly and clear.
Its president, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, said it was important for the election of a Sabah Chief Minister not to be determined through statutory declarations (SD), which is feared to cause political uncertainty.
“Warisan has voiced that Article 6 (7) should not be repealed. If there are improvements we can change it. But, because they (state assemblymen) voted, it (has) been repealed. (However), they (the Sabah government) have promised to review it, involving members of the state assembly.
“I hope this matter will be followed up and the state government fulfills its promise to look at the framework of Article 6 (7) because what is mentioned there is the party with the majority should form the government,” he said in a press conference here on Friday.
On Thursday, the Sabah State Legislative Assembly passed the Sabah State Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2023 related to anti-party hopping with the support of 75 assemblymen while four assemblymen did not attend the third reading tabled by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
On the second reading, a bloc vote was carried out for Clause 2 of the Bill, whereby 61 assemblymen agreed to drop Article 6 (7), 14 assemblymen disagreed, while four assemblymen were absent.
Article 6 (7) states that where a political party wins the majority of seats in the election, the leader of the party, who is also a Sabah assemblyman, shall be the member of the Legislative Assembly who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly (to be elected as Chief Minister).
Mohd Shafie who is also the Senallang assemblyman said what was important is that the leader and political party chosen to lead the administration of Sabah in the future should be an individual or party that participates in the election and gets a majority.
“We don’t want a party that doesn’t contest elections in Sabah to become the government. This contradicts the democratic system,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohd Shafie, who is also the Opposition Leader in the Sabah State Assembly, said the unanimous support of the Sabah assemblymen for the bill was a clear manifestation of ensuring Sabah’s political stability and hoped that it would be gazetted as soon as possible.
He said the passing of the Bill was a relief as it would help ensure political stability in Sabah and chip away the public perception that politicians would abandon their initial goal of helping the people after the elections.
Hajiji said on Thursday the bill aimed to delete Article 6(7) in the Sabah State Constitution because it was no longer in line with the requirements under Article 6(3) following current political developments.
Article 6(3), among others, states that the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah shall appoint as Chief Minister a member of the legislative assembly who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the assembly.
Hajiji said since the 14th general election in 2018, no political party had obtained a majority to govern the state and since then, the state government has been administered by a coalition of political parties.
Article 6(7), meanwhile, states that the leader of a political party that has won a majority of the elected seats of the Legislative Assembly in a general election and who is a member of the assembly shall be the one who is likely to command the confidence of the majority.
Warisan deputy president Datuk Darell Leiking who was also at the press conference, said the six nominated assemblymen should also be subject to the anti-party hopping law.
Leiking, who is the Moyog assemblyman, said that the nominated assemblymen should not enjoy immunity to the anti-hopping law as they had equal powers as elected assemblymen, including all voting powers.
“They get the same pay, same pension, same allowances and hold their position for five years and can be re-appointed in each new term without any limit in the number of terms.
“They should be subjected to the anti-hop law,” he said.
Leiking addes the reason given by the Chief Minister that they were not subject to the anti-hopping law because they were not elected and did not have a constituency was not applicable.
He said that Malaysian senators in Dewan Negara were not subject to the anti-hopping law because they did not have the same rights as the elected MPs.
“Senators are appointed for a three-year term and renewable for a second term only. They do not have the same benefits of MPs,” he said, adding that Sabah’s nominated assemblymen had equal rights with elected assemblymen.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the opposition members who voted against the deletion of Article 6(7) are hypocrites.
He said it was good that the bill was passed.
“The anti-hopping bill has been passed. It is good that they have passed it.
“The only thing not happy about it is the opposition ‘yang mati-mati mau tapi bila sampai sana tidak sokong. So (saya) bilang hipokrit’ (they really wanted it but they did not support. So I say hypocrites),” he said at a press conference on Friday.