PAKATAN Rakyat lawmakers blamed the long-drawn debates on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) as the reason for the absence of more than 20 Opposition lawmakers during the crucial voting.
PAS parliamentary whip Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS - Pokok Sena) said many of them had prior commitments and appointments, adding that the extension of proceedings took them by surprise.
Early on, it was announced that proceedings would end at 9.30pm.
“Then why submit a new motion to extend it?,” he said when met at the Parliament lobby.
Mahfuz, who was absent when voting was carried out, said proceedings should have been postponed to Tuesday to give all MPs the chance to be present. “The Bill was presented to us a week in advance, but the reading was rushed through in just one day,” he added.
DAP parliamentary whip Anthony Loke (DAP - Seremban), however, said most of the their MPs were in Parliament during Monday’s vote.
He said 35 out of 37 DAP lawmakers were present for the voting while two were unable to attend as they were overseas.
PKR whip Datuk Johari Abdul confirmed that three PKR MPs, including himself, were absent during debates and voting on the Bill.
“I was not well while Subang MP R. Sivarasa was overseas in Australia and Miri MP Dr Michael Teo had other engagements to attend,” the Sungai Petani MP said.
However, he said everyone was caught by surprise when the Bill was debated way past the 9.30pm period as stated in the day’s Order Paper.
Kota Baru PAS MP Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, who was also absent during the voting, said all the party absentees had their own commitments to attend to.
Most of the Opposition MPs said they were only informed of the first reading of Pota the night before it was to be tabled on Mar 30 with the Bill coming up for second reading on Monday.
It is understood that 26 Opposition MPs were absent during the vote on the bill, which was passed at 2.25am with 79 Barisan Nasional MPs in favour and 60 Opposition MPs against it after more than 10 hours of debate.