KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — The absence of a third of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs from yesterday’s debate on a law reviving detention without trial could disillusion supporters, despite the futility of the symbolic resistance, according to analysts.
The absenteeism risked being interpreted as a betrayal of public trust, as it suggests that the MPs were not committed to carrying out their duties in representing their voters on crucial issues, they added.
“It is disappointing that some of the PR lawmakers were not around to [debate] amendments to the POTA Bill yesterday,” director of Merdeka Center Ibrahim Suffian told Malay Mail Online, referring to the Prevention of Terrorism Bill (Pota) 2015 passed yesterday.
“This undercuts the public trust placed in them to fight such critical matters,” he added.
Ibrahim said although PR stood no chance in blocking Pota due to its numerical inferiority, the pact’s lawmakers had an obligation to ensure voters’ voice are heard in the matter.
He added that having as many as a third of its MPs absent during voting on the controversial law was “shameful”.
The Pota was passed without amendment at the Dewan Rakyat at about 2.25am this morning after a debate of more than 12 hours.
The Bill was passed after the ninth block voting, with the final voting favouring the government when 79 MPs from Barisan Nasional (BN) supported the Bill while 64 MP from PR rejected it.
PR parties have 88 seats (minus Permatang Pauh). Eleven MPs each from PKR and PAS were absent, while the DAP were short of two, sources say.
Independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said the absenteeism could create a poor impression of the pact’s commitment to its supporters and pose serious questions over their credentials as a solid alternative to BN.
“I think it will be hard for them to convince voters that they are the viable alternative... and it’s cumulative. From the Selangor mentri besar crisis to the Kajang move.
“Each party still acts on their own and not through the PR (presidential) council. I mean does the PR council even function?” He said.
Khoo also noted that yesterday’s events followed the pact’s open bickering over PAS’ plan to implement hudud in Kelantan, which is opposed by PKR and DAP.
He said PR had a chance to show voters that they remained united, but failed to capitalise on it.
“It really points to whether PR is actually a good coalition or not,” he said.
On social media, supporters upset with the coalition vented their frustration and accused PR of failing to uphold their duties.
Groups and activists aligned to PR also criticised the pact, saying despite knowing they would eventually succumb to BN’s bid to bulldoze Pota through Parliament, they would have at least won a moral battle by opposing en masse the ruling coalition’s law.