Dewan Rakyat Passes Supply Bill with Slim Majority

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The Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2020 was today approved at the policy stage through bloc voting at the Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Bernama

The bloc voting saw 111 members of Parliament voting for the bill and 106 were against while five others did not vote as they were absent during today’s sitting.

The five missing MPs were Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan – Semporna), Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau (Upko – Tuaran), Datuk Christina Liew (PKR – Tawau), Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili (PBS – Kota Marudu) and Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah (BN – Gua Musang).

The bloc voting was initiated when opposition MPs told the Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun that they disagreed with the bill and asked for bloc voting.

“As more than 15 MPs have stood up to ask for bloc voting, I call for bloc voting to be held,” said Azhar, who then postponed the proceedings for 10 minutes.

This prompted a shouting match with opposition MPs telling Azhar that bloc voting cannot be postponed or else it will lead to a hung parliament. They also questioned if PN was having trouble rounding up their MPs.

“This vote is considered invalid if the House is postponed. I hope the speaker understands this. This is a basic matter and cannot happen,” Sivarasa Rasiah (PH – Sungai Buloh) said.

The argument continued while the microphones were switched off until Azhar returned to the Chamber to start the voting and announced the result after.

The bill is now being read and debated for the second reading at the committee level. It is expected to be completed tonight.

On July 21, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz tabled the Supplementary Supply (2019) Bill 2020 as well as the Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2020 in the Lower House to reallocate RM7.18 billion to facilitate the restructuring of the PN cabinet.

Tengku Zafrul had said that this would not involve additional allocations and would be taken from the existing budget and savings.

The application for allocations followed the restructuring of several ministries, establishment of new ministries and the dissolution of one ministry in line with the formation of the new cabinet on March 10, 2020.

The additional expenditure was applied for the Prime Minister’s Department totalling RM310.62 million, Treasury (RM17.25 million) and Treasury General Services (RM2.41 million).

The allocation was also for the National Unity Ministry (RM240.45 million), Rural Development Ministry (RM189.16 million), Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (RM102.60 million), as well as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (RM10 million).

The rest of the allocation is for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (RM12.41 million), Ministry of Environment and Water (RM306 million), Ministry of Housing and Local Government (RM70.37 million), and the Ministry of Higher Education (RM5.92 billion).

Earlier today, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Independent – Langkawi) told MPs to reject the bill, including other bills seeking additional funds for government expenditure.

He said the government should reduce spending to keep the country’s deficit down amid the Covid-19 pandemic instead of spending more.

“This is irresponsible. As the government, they should manage finances wisely. Here we find that the government has increased the number of cabinet members without taking into account the government’s capabilities,” he told the House this morning.