Monday, January 25, 2021

Dr M attacks opposition bloc after PH MPs shy away from budget vote

The former leader was among 13 who had stood up to call for a bloc vote.

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Dr Mahathir Mohamad has launched a stinging attack on the opposition bloc, the majority of whom did not join him and 12 others in calling for a bloc vote on the budget today.

Almost all of Pakatan Harapan’s MPs sat out the call for a bloc vote on the 2021 budget, which was easily passed by voice vote.

Mahathir and three MPs from his Pejuang bloc, as well as a group of Amanah leaders, were among those who stood up to call for a bloc vote, which requires each MP to individually vote before the budget can be passed.

“A government that is founded on corruption and through the bribing of MPs, this corrupt government was then supported by opposition MPs who never showed any sense of guilt in breaking their promise to the people,” the former prime minister wrote on his blog, hours after the winding-up speech on the budget by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz.

A minimum of 15 MPs are needed before a bloc vote can be called.

Any failure to pass the budget through such a vote could have meant the collapse of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government, possibly triggering pandemic-season polls which health authorities have warned against.

Although PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim and former prime minister Najib Razak repeatedly criticised the budget, Mahathir on his part had clearly stated that he would not support it.

MalaysiaNow earlier reported that Anwar had sent a last-minute message, instructing PH MPs not to call for a bloc vote.

It is believed that the message, sent by word of mouth to MPs during the winding-up speech today, did not reach several Amanah MPs, who stood up to call for the bloc vote together with Mahathir.

It is also learnt that Anwar’s instruction to the MPs was due to Najib backing out of his threat to scuttle the budget.

But Anwar later told reporters that the decision to avoid a bloc vote was not due to a lack of numbers on his side.

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