No, PRN 2023 won’t affect the Dewan Rakyat or the Federal Government as claimed by PAS President
The 2023 State Elections are currently underway, involving six states that didn’t dissolve their respective Legislative Assemblies (DUN) during or prior to the 15th General Election (GE15). These include the states of Selangor, Penang, Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan.
Accordingly, all political parties and coalitions contesting this State Elections are now hot on their campaign trail, trying to woo voters with their visions and manifestos for the respective states. In relation to that, a recent speech by PAS President Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang during a Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) ceramah caught the attention of Malaysians thanks to his bold claims on how the state polls would see a change in the federal government.
As reported by NST, Hadi, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Marang asserted that should PN “win (the State Elections in the six states), there will be a change in the Federal Government”, claiming that is what the polls entail. He was quoted as saying this to the audience at the Munajat Akbar and PN Best tour in Sendayan on 6 August.
Of course, such a statement understandably caused a stir, with many criticising Hadi for misleading voters. This is because the state polls have nothing to do with the General Election or the government at the federal level. For the latter, the State Election results may hypothetically put some pressure on some MPs to vacate their seats, a scenario which we would go into detail in the latter half of this article.
Firstly, it’s important to note that elections in Malaysia exist at two levels: Federal and state. The election at the federal level is called the General Election for determining the Federal Government, while at the state level, it’s called the State Elections for determining the State Government.
Moreover, the General Election is for membership in the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia’s lower house of Parliament called a Member of Parliament (MP). Meanwhile, State Elections are for membership in the various State Legislative Assemblies (DUN) called the Member of the State Legislative Assembly (ADUN).
While the traditional practice is for most DUNs to be dissolved at the same time as Parliament for convenience and to save election costs, any state may dissolve its DUN independently of the Federal Parliament. This can be seen in recent years which saw Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka and Johor dissolving their respective DUNs prior to GE15 for differing reasons.
Furthermore, the six states that are going to the polls this 12 August also decided to not dissolve their DUNs when GE15 took place, opting until the expiry of the DUNs as per their respective State Constitutions instead. Only 3 states, namely Pahang, Perak and Perlis held State Elections simultaneously with the General Election back in November 2022.
State Elections are prescribed under each state’s respective State Constitutions, while the General Election is prescribed under Article 55 of the Federal Constitution below:
Circling back to the subject matter at hand, given that State Elections are separate from General Elections, the state polls this 12 August have absolutely no bearing on the Dewan Rakyat and with it, the Federal Government. Hence, the claim by the PAS President is misleading and should be retracted or clarified so that it won’t cause confusion or a false narrative amongst voters.
Perhaps what the PAS President was suggesting is that should PN sweep the State Elections, there would be pressure on the Federal Government and some MPs would change allegiance to PN. Even if Hadi’s statement is interpreted this way, the Anti-Hopping Law is already put in place to avoid such a thing from happening.
Unanimously passed in the Dewan Rakyat back in July and coming into effect on 5 October 2022, the law is enacted via a constitutional amendment as Article 49A in the Federal Constitution. Moreover, in lieu of the new law, Parliament also amended Article 10 to restrict the freedom of association for MPs subjected to the Anti-Hopping Law, as well as Article 160 and the Eight Schedule so as to make the legislation consistent with the Constitution.
Section 49A of the Constitution as per the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 3) Act 2022 is as follows:
Applied to Hadi’s claim, should a government MP decide to switch allegiance, they would have to vacate their seat in Parliament and a recall election would be held. Therefore, it is very unlikely for a change in the Federal Government to take place indirectly due to the results of the State Elections, barring a sizable number of MPs deciding to forgo their seats.
Moving forward, let’s hope that such rhetoric would not be further played up as it is irresponsible and goes against the spirit of federalism. It is also important for voters to be educated on the matter so that they can make an informed decision when casting their ballots.