Putrajaya says it need to obtain input from various stakeholders before deciding whether it will formulate an anti-hopping law to stop elected representatives from defecting.
"Whether the government proposes to formulate laws of party defection is the policy management that needs to be refined, and it needs to take into consideration views from various stakeholders," said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong.
The de facto law minister was responding to Bera MP Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who asked if the government planned to formulate such a law.
The former Umno minister said that a law barring incumbent lawmakers from hopping to another party would be in the best interests of the constituents who voted them into office.
In his Aug 2 parliamentary written reply, however, Liew cited a 1992 Federal Court ruling which stated that it is unconstitutional to legally compel defecting lawmakers to vacate their seats.
"The matter was brought up to court in 1992 in the case of (former PAS state assemblyperson) Nordin Salleh vs the Kelantan Legislative Assembly.
"The Federal Court ruled that (any) law that compels the people's representative who joins another party to vacate the seat is a violation of Article 10(1) of the Federal Constitution," he said.
Article 10(1) pertains to the freedom of speech, assembly and association.
The May 9 general election, which saw Umno lose power for the first time in the country’s history, subsequently saw the party lose three MPs.
Bukit Gantang MP Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal, Bagan Serai MP Noor Azmi Ghazali and Masjid Tanah MP Mas Ermieyati Samsudin all made their exits, which leaves Umno with just 51 seats from the 54 it won in the general election.
Last month, Wanita Umno chief Noraini Ahmad challenged MPs who quit Umno to relinquish their seats and trigger by-elections.
The idea of an anti-hopping law was first suggested by late DAP chairperson Karpal Singh in 2010, after three state assemblypersons quit then-federal opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat to help BN form the Perak government the previous year.