PUTRAJAYA: Simpang Renggam MP Dr Maszlee Malik and three other Pakatan Harapan MPs were absent from the Dewan Rakyat during the vote to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.
The Education Minister was absent along with Deputy Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (Hang Tuah Jaya), Noor Amin Ahmad (Kangar) and Muslimin Yahaya (Sungai Besar).
Had they been present, Pakatan would only be short of six votes to secure the two-thirds majority (148) required to pass the amendment.
De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that 16 MPs were recorded as absent during the voting on April 9.
They include Datuk Seri Najib Razak (Pekan), Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Bagan Datuk), Khairy Jamaluddin (Rembau), Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz (Padang Rengas) and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (Marang).
Additionally, Dewan Rakyat records show eight MPs "did not participate" during the vote.
The eight include Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (Sembrong), Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (Putrajaya) and Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Pasir Salak).
"These MPs were not recorded as absent, but they also did not vote," said Liew.
On the four Pakatan MPs who were not present, Liew said it would be up to their respective party whips to find out why they were absent during that crucial time.
Liew said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had issued a directive for everyone to be present at the Dewan Rakyat during the tabling of the Article 1(2) amendment Bill, in case there was a vote.
"The Prime Minister had also said they cannot have any other programmes overseas at that time. This reminder was made a month before it was tabled," he said at a press conference here on Friday (April 12).
The amendment sought to define the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with states in Peninsular Malaysia as per the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.
Pakatan only managed to secure 138 votes. No lawmaker disagreed but 59 MPs abstained from voting.