Opposition still loses bloc vote after yet another uproar in Parliament today

A general view of the Parliament logo in Kuala Lumpur November 29, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
A general view of the Parliament logo in Kuala Lumpur November 29, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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UALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Parliament passed three ministries’ budgets today, including two by voice vote, after the Opposition only pushed for a bloc vote for one ministry today.

Speaker Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun presided over the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry’s budget at 3.40pm today.

The vote was called after the ministry’s winding-up speech by its Deputy Minister II Willie Mongin.

There was an uproar after Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) called Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman (Muda-Muar) a “budak” (child) when both were trying to interject Willie’s speech.

Hannah Yeoh (PH-Segambut) then stood up as MPs from both sides of the divide engaged in a shouting match in the background, citing Standing Order 36(4) in an attempt to compel Azhar to make a ruling on the matter.

Azhar said he would proceed with voting on the ministries’ budget but was then pressed to make a ruling by Ramkarpal Singh (PH-Bukit Jelutong).

“We have to look at the context. I think he (Tajuddin) is only joking,” said Azhar, which invited more shouting from the Opposition.

However, Azhar then rang the bell for 10 minutes which saw a flurry of MPs outside rushing in to vote.

During the commotion, government-supporting MPs shouted “pengkhianat”, as they accused Opposition MPs of trying to stop funding for small farmers by opposing the ministry’s budget.

Opposition MPs continued to press Azhar and claimed Willie showed his “middle finger” twice to them.

Microphones were then silenced and only came back on after the bell stopped ringing and voting was ordered to start.

The RM476.665 million allocation was passed after 108 MPs voted yes and 95 voted no, with 17 MPs absent.

Azhar also called for the Dewan Rakyat Bentaras (staff) to check and be with each bloc leader to ensure the votes were counted correctly.

Earlier, Dewan Rakyat deputy Speaker Datuk Rashid Hasnon presided over the session at the end of committee stage debates to approve RM423.28 million in allocations for the Unity Ministry after the winding-up speech was delivered by Unity Minister Halimah Saddique.

During the debate earlier, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) remarked that the government bloc was ready with 112 MPs in the event of any bloc votes called.

“We are ready with 112 MPs. Yesterday, they said they were ready for 27-0 but today, they missed one,” he said, in an apparent jab at Opposition MPs.

During the morning session, Dewan Rakyat deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said presided over the approval of the allocation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Deputy Foreign Minister Kamaruddin Jaafar delivered his winding-up speech.

Also earlier today, federal lawmakers clashed today after it was revealed that one from among them had voted on Budget 2021 despite being officially absent from the House.

Rashid read out a declaration from Azhar that Noor Amin Ahmad (PH-Kangar) informed him that Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (BN-Padang Rengas) had been included in the approving side of yesterday’s division when he was not present.

“So, for the Finance Ministry vote today, it is 106 MPs agreeing, 95 disagreeing and 19 absent,” Rashid told the Dewan Rakyat, before stressing that it did not alter the result while promising a more thorough vote count today.

Yesterday, PH lost the bloc votes for the Prime Minister’s Department and Ministry of Finance, gaining only 95 votes.

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