PETALING JAYA: The debate on the proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution during the special sitting tomorrow to pave the way for an anti-hopping Bill is set to be intense.

Political analysts believe that the proposed amendment, which will touch on the freedom of association, will be the first approach to allow the government to finally enact an anti-party hopping law.

Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya believed that the majority of political parties have no option but to support the amendments to Article 10 of the Constitution as the first step, before focusing on specific aspects of the proposed anti-party hopping law which will be held at a separate special sitting.

“Surely, there will be heated debates when the respective MPs express their dissatisfaction over the delay, while criticism of one another is also expected to take place,” he said yesterday.

According to a copy of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2020 sighted by The Star, the government is seeking to amend Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and introduce a new Clause 3(A).

The proposed Clause 3(A) will allow the enactment of laws banning elected representatives in Parliament and the state assembly from switching allegiances.

Prof Awang Azman added that the amendments to the Constitution is seen as an attempt by the government to control all the criticisms hurled by various political parties.

“More criticisms will appear if nothing is being done and the situation could get out of control.

“So, it is important to have a clear set of agenda during Monday’s sitting so it will not get out of control in order to achieve its main objectives,” he said.

Senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research Dr Azmi Hassan predicted that the constitutional amendment will receive two-thirds support in Dewan Rakyat.

“This is to allow the anti-hopping Bill to be finally enacted,” he said.

However, it is important for the government to be transparent when it comes to enacting the anti-party hopping law.

“When Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) information chief Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan had said that the content of the Bill should be made public before it is debated … I think this is to allow the public as well as experts to scrutinise it,” he said.

After going back and forth for over eight months on the anti-hopping Bill, Bersatu and PAS have finally expressed their support for the constitutional amendment.

However, the two parties under Perikatan Nasional have asked for further fine-tuning on the definition of party hopping, and not to rush the tabling of the Bill.

Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and other party leaders have consistently asked for the amendments to be tabled in Parliament first, and if there are any changes, it can be done later down the road.

The Pakatan Harapan presidential council has also pushed the Prime Minister to set a new date for the tabling of the anti-hopping law tomorrow.

The anti-hopping Bill was initially scheduled to be tabled on March 24, but it was then postponed to the special Parliamentary sitting tomorrow.

However on Thursday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar announced that amendments to the Constitution will be carried out first to pave the way for the tabling of a separate anti-hopping Bill.

Wan Junaidi also said that both sides have agreed to a new special parliamentary sitting to table, debate and approve the Bill, with the Prime Minister to decide on the new date of the special parliamentary sitting.

There have been objections emerging from civil society groups, especially Undi18, which objected to the move to amend Article 10 of the Constitution.

The group argued that it is akin to giving the government of the day broad powers to determine party membership for MPs, thus paving the way for abuse of power.

The youth-based movement said it supported Bersih 2.0 and Umno’s Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s proposal for a recall election as a more viable solution.

Undi18 also argued that constitutional amendments are still required for Article 48, where there are reasons why a member of the House may be deprived of his or her parliamentary seat.