Law minister: Maszlee among four Pakatan MPs absent from Constitution amendment vote

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong is pictured at Parliament April 4, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong is pictured at Parliament April 4, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, April 12 — Four Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers were absent during voting to pass the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said today.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department named those absent from the ruling coalition as: Education Minister Maszlee Malik, Deputy Local Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar, Kangar MP Noor Amin Ahmad and Sungai Besar MP Muslimin Yahya.

“The issue was raised during the Cabinet meeting, where I was made to understand one or two applied to attend meetings overseas,” he told the media here, but did not specify who had made the requests.

Liew said this was despite Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself instructing PH MPs to be present during the voting.

“The principle is when an instruction is given from the PM to MPs and to ministers and their deputies, they were not supposed go out of the country or parliament on the ninth,” he said.

Liew said the four MPs were among the 16 who were absent and another eight who did not participate in the voting.

When asked if disciplinary action will be taken against the absent PH MPs, Liew said he would leave such decisions to their respective parties.

“If we lost by four votes, who would want to take the blame, stating just for argument’s sake.

“This is very important, when instructions from the party whip to be present in Parliament to make sure we get the two-thirds majority, the MPs must be present, there cannot be any excuses.

“So as for that, I will leave it to the lead whip,” he said.

Among the 16 MPs marked absent during Tuesday’s vote included former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (BN-Pekan), Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau), Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datuk), former law minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (BN-Padang Rengas) and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

Meanwhile, Barisan Nasional MPs Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (Sembrong), Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Gua Musang), Datuk Seri Reezal Merican (Kepala Batas), Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Pasir Salak), Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor (Putrajaya), Datuk Seri Hassan Ariffin (Rompin), Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah (Jasin) and Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin (Padang Besar) did not participate.

A total of 138 MPs had voted in favour of the amendment, with 59 choosing not to vote, and with the remaining 24 either absent of did not participate, with none opposing the Bill.