KUALA LUMPUR: PKR parliamentary whip chief Datuk Johari Abdul has played down an incident on Tuesday (Nov 26) night, when the 2020 Budget for the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry was nearly defeated by a bloc vote.
According to Johari, the bloc voting was a tactic used by the Opposition coalition to “ambush” the ruling coalition in Parliament.
“This is exactly what we did to Barisan Nasional last time, remember? We always ‘ambush’ them too. So, they did the same to us now.
“But, this time around, we were alert of what’s going on, ” said Johari to reporters at the Parliament lobby on Wednesday (Nov 27).
Johari claimed he knew the Opposition would target the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry for a bloc vote, as the ministry was helmed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
“And then when I saw some unfamiliar faces around, I knew something was going on. Barisan MPs never stayed back in Parliament.”
Johari cited fatigue as among the reasons so many Pakatan MPs were absent from Dewan Rakyat proceedings.
“In this Budget session, we always finish late, usually around 10pm or 10.30pm. When you get home, it’s about 12am and after you shower it’s about 1am. After you say ‘Hi’ to you wife, it's 1.30am.
“So, when you wake up, sometimes you are a bit late to the morning session. So, it’s fatigue lah.
“Probably we have to discuss with the Speaker to see how MPs can have more quality time. Now, they seemed quite fatigued.”
Johari said during this time of the year, many ministries and agencies had a variety of programmes, which was also a factor causing the absence of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.
“But, anyhow, we will always make sure that the quorum is okay. Probably they are not in the Dewan Rakyat, but they are somewhere around this vicinity."
On Tuesday (Nov 26) night, the 2020 Budget for the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry was nearly defeated after Opposition MPs called for a bloc vote twice when they noticed that their MPs outnumbered Pakatan Harapan’s.
During the first vote count, the allocation was nearly approved with 32 government MPs voting in support while 28 Opposition MPs rejected it.
The final bloc vote, called by the Opposition, stood at 45-28, where Pakatan saw an increase of 17 in its majority.
Opposition MPs were questioning how long it took to tabulate votes from the small number of MPs present, as it took about 20 minutes for the votes to be tallied.
Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong, in a statement on Wednesday (Nov 27), said that the expectation of MPs to sit in the Dewan Rakyat from 10am to 12am is the simplest way to “literally kill our MPs”.
He said that Dewan Rakyat proceedings should be conducted from 10am to 5.30pm and late sessions should only be held when necessary.
“When the public understands that the MPs' role in Parliament is more than just sitting in the Main Chamber, the silly game of calling the quorum will perhaps no longer become an interest for the media, ” Liew added.
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