KUALA LUMPUR: Several Opposition MPs defended their absence in Dewan Rakyat on Monday (Nov 20) morning, saying they were attending "party matters".
"We did not play truant (ponteng). We had to attend party matters outside," Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal (PN-Bukit Gantang) said just as he was about to end his debates on Budget 2024 in Parliament on Monday.
He was supported by Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (PN-Pasir Mas), who interjected and asked: "Does it mean that if ministers are absent, they are playing truant?"
They were responding to Datuk Mohd Isam Mohd Isa's (BN-Tampin) comment earlier in the day after noticing the absence of Opposition MPs in the House.
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (PN-Arau) said that Opposition MPs usually had to wait for government backbenchers to make up the quorum in Parliament.
Shahidan called for the statement to be retracted, which he said was misleading.
Earlier on Monday, Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul skipped several oral questions listed in the Order Paper raised by Opposition MPs.
It is usual for oral questions to be skipped if the MPs who posed them are not present.
It was learnt that many Opposition MPs were absent as they were attending a gathering in Putrajaya as a show of support for the PAS-led Kelantan state government in a case regarding the state's Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019.
Most returned to Parliament by 11am to join proceedings.