Anwar Made Last-Minute Call to Not Back Division Vote on Budget

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Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim told his bloc to stand down moments before a division vote, taken by having each side stand up to be counted, on the budget was proposed in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

Less than the required 15 MPs stood to back the call, leading to the supply bill being passed at the policy stage by voice vote.

Several opposition lawmakers were reported to be disgruntled as the Anwar’s message was conveyed at the last minute without any explanation, sources said on condition of anonymity.

“It was a last-minute order. Everyone in the opposition is now frustrated and waiting for an explanation,” an MP told The Malaysian Insight upon exiting from the Dewan Rakyat.

The bill has to pass two more stages and may accommodate further changes.

Another source said Anwar issued last-minute instructions verbally to top party leaders, including Amanah’s Mohamad Sabu and DAP’s Lim Guan Eng to not participate in the vote.

Only 13 lawmakers from the opposition stood up to urge for a division vote. They were Dr Mahathir Mohamad and three other Pejuang members and nine Amanah members, including Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar.  Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and his deputy Salahuddin Ayub did not stand.

DAP lawmakers as well as independents Maszlee Malik and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman also remained seated.

DAP lawmaker Kelvin Yii (Bandar Kuching), who had said that he would vote against the budget, tweeted an apology for not standing up.

“I have to apologise as I was not one of those who stood. I made the stand on socials before the vote, after hearing the speech. It was done under a voice vote,” he tweeted after the vote.

Several DAP and PKR lawmakers have yet to respond to a request for comment.

A PKR MP said Anwar, who is the party president, will hold a press conference later to explain the opposition’s stand on the budget.

Prior to the vote, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz announced several concessions to demands from both sides of the divide.

He said the government agreed to extend the loan moratorium to all B40 income earners and small businesses.

It also agreed to allow eight million EPF contributors to withdraw up to RM10,000 from their account 1 in one lump sum instead of RM6,000 across 12 months.

Parliament will begin debating Budget 2021 at the committee stage next Monday, when the expenditure of each ministry will be scrutinised.

Though the budget has passed the policy stage, it could falter at the committee stage as each ministry’s allocation has to be voted on.

Perikatan Nasional must ensure it has enough representatives in attendance on voting day as the opposition could call for a division vote to approve each allocation. – TMI