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Newsletter | Issue 27

Subject: Hungover parliament after a night out




Apa khabar? Good job, fellow Malaysians! The turnout for GE15 this year was huge despite the rainy season. While we stay in the dark on who could be our next PM, can we use this chance to celebrate one win for us?
Our Instagram followers blew up over the election period, and we just want to say this one thing – we got the numbers!
Niresh Kaur, Shambavi Shankar

What’s the tea in Malaysia?

sipping tea
Voting OOTD (outfit of the day)
Doesn’t matter if you were voting for the first time or your fifth, if there was anything we Malaysians were confused about, it was the OOTD guideline. For example, can you vote with painted nails? The answer is yes. 

According to the Elections Commission (EC), there are no guidelines on what you can wear on election day as long as it is not against Section 26(1)(g) of the Election Offences Act 1954. Section 26(1) prohibits a voter from wearing or carrying any form of clothing or item which shows the logo or name of the candidate or political party within 50m distance from the polling centre.

This rule however does not apply if your name is Hadi Awang. (For legal reasons, this is a joke).
Source: FMT (Twitter user)
Hadi Awang, the leader of the party with the most votes (if we take the parties apart), appeared in his polling centre in his party uniform. This was clearly a violation of the Elections Offences Act and they must investigate this matter.

So far, there is no news on any investigation into this matter.
Source: Twitter
Sign the form, Mr/Mrs Officer
During the vote count, Hannah Yeoh claimed that she had the majority votes, however, the presiding officer refused to sign the Borang 14.

What is Borang 14?  When the votes in a constituency have been tallied by the counting agents (PACA), the presiding officer will have to sign the Borang 14, in line with Regulation 25 (12) of the Regulations 1981. This is done to reduce electoral fraud.

It is only when this form is signed that we will have an official result (keputusan rasmi).

Are these officers being unfair, or are they merely incompetent? 
Source: Tenor
Can the YDPA do anything about a hung parliament?
Not really. The ultimate law in Malaysia is the Federal Constitution (FC). By the FC, to form a government, a party will need to have a simple majority (112 out of 222 seats). If a party fails to form a simple majority, this results in a hung parliament – the party with the most seats now will have to work together with other parties to form a coalition.

For example, in 2010, the Conservative Party in the UK was short of 20 seats to form a majority. After 5 days, a coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was formed.

It is only upon commanding the support of 112 MPs will the YDPA be involved. 

Here’s a random reminder that we have a right to rally under Article 10 of the FC
Source: Tenor
What are the loopholes in the anti-hopping law?
Many are confused about how the anti-hopping law works. We spoke to lawyer, Harinder Singh, to clarify some facts on the anti-hopping law:

By the constitution (Article 43), the PM needs to have the support of the majority MPs. Can a group of MPs, without leaving his party, show support to an MP from another party (eg Hishamudin + Zahid showing support to Anwar)?
Yes, they can in their capacity as a Member of Parliament (MP). The vote of confidence is individual to each MP, not to the party.

Of course, the party can later take disciplinary action against them for not following party directives which may result in them being sacked from the party. However, a loophole in the anti-hopping law is that MPs being sacked from their parties and joining other parties does not constitute party hopping.

In the UK, there is a convention that states the party with the majority seats gets to choose who to form a coalition with. Does that apply in Malaysia?
As Malaysia adopts the Westminster model of parliamentary government, it is a practice/convention that ought to be followed whereby the King invites the party with the most seats to try to form a government. Conventions can constitute a source of ‘law’ under the Federal Constitution. It would be prudent to follow the same.

Can another Sheraton Move happen? How?
It absolutely can. Parties that come together now to form a coalition government can later on decide to break away from the coalition and withdraw their support for the Prime Minister (PM) at any time. They can then join another coalition and express their support for a different MP to be the PM.

Alternatively, they can withdraw support for the PM and support another MP to be the PM without even leaving the coalition.

In any case, the anti-hopping law does not apply to political coalitions, only to MPs switching political parties. So a party leaving a coalition and joining another coalition, while expressing support for a different MP to be PM is not party hopping.
Harinder Singh is a former Special Functions Officer to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) and Special Officer on Parliament & Press Affairs to the former MP for Batu Sapi, Sabah, the late Datuk Liew Vui Keong. He was called to the Bar in April 2022 and is currently a practicing lawyer.

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