KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Federal lawmakers broke out in argument today after it was revealed that one among them voted on Budget 2021 yesterday despite being absent from the house.

Earlier, Deputy Speaker Datuk Rashid Hasnon read out a declaration from Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun that Noor Amin Ahmad (PH-Kangar) informed him Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (BN-Padang Rengas) had been included in 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 and stressed that it did not alter the result

Datuk Shabudin Yahya (PN-Tasek Gelugor), who counted for the supporting side of the division, apologised to the Speaker and insisted he did not mean to mislead the house.

Instead, Shabudin asserted that he counted Nazri by mistake.

“A few minutes before that (the division) I saw Padang Rengas, but then I am not sure if Padang Rengas was still there.

“I have no intention to deceive the Dewan. I have sincerely informed the Speaker of this and apologised,” he said when the Opposition began demanding an explanation.

Noor Amin, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muda-Muar) and RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) rose to press the Deputy Speaker for a ruling to ensure that any of today’s divisions would be done accurately and transparently.

They said this development exposed a fundamental flaw in the way divisions were conducted, which required a measure to ensure it was not repeated.

Fuziah Salleh (PH-Kuantan) then rose and cited Standing Order (SO) 47 (1) and 47 (2), which stated that MPs who acted as vote counter must clearly ask each lawmaker on their side of the division whether they were for, against, or abstaining from voting on any specific motion.

Hannah Yeoh (PH-Segambut) then repeated the call for Rashid to make a ruling to ensure there was no recurrence of the phantom voting.

However, Rashid only said he would raise the matter with Azhar and that any lawmaker who took issue with this should formally notify the Speaker under Standing Order 43.

He also assured lawmakers that SO 47 that required each MP to expressly state their position during bloc voting would be employed.

Yesterday, the Opposition failed to block the Ministry of Finance’s expenditure under Budget 2021 that was approved with 107 votes for and 95 against. It was the second division the Opposition lost yesterday.

Rashid, who was presiding over the matter then, had agreed to call for a division vote when nearly all Opposition MPs stood up requesting one because the outcome of the earlier voice vote was unclear.

However, just before voting started, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun stepped back into the House to oversee the process, which enabled Rashid, who is also Batu Pahat MP, to vote.

Azhar then told the Dewan Rakyat that no lawmakers would be allowed to enter the House once voting begins.

The RM21 billion allocation for the Ministry of Finance under Budget 2021 was then passed.