Tuesday, January 26, 2021

24 hours after sitting out budget vote, PH MPs still target of online scorn

Social media users say the opposition had called for the budget to be rejected but made no move to do so themselves.

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Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders remain the target of online scorn, more than 24 hours after their move to sit out a call for a bloc vote on the 2021 budget which saw it being passed by voice vote, putting an end to speculation that the Perikatan Nasional government would fall.

This comes as PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim defended a last-minute instruction to his comrades in the Dewan Rakyat not to call for a bloc vote, which would have ensured that the budget could only be passed through individual voting by all MPs present.

A check on social media showed many opposition supporters questioning MPs who had been critical of the budget but did not reject it.

An online exchange even saw two DAP leaders in open confrontation.

Selangor exco Teng Chang Kim hit out at Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto after she insisted that she had opposed the budget.

“I wish to state here that I objected to the 2021 budget,” Kasthuri had posted.

“If you did not stand up in Parliament to object, do not tell me on FB that you object to it. Shameful,” Teng responded.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun yesterday urged MPs who wanted a bloc vote to stand up after the winding-up speech by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz.

However, only 13 did so, two MPs short of the minimum 15 needed for a bloc vote to take place.

A bloc vote would have required each MP to individually vote before the budget could be passed.

MalaysiaNow later reported that Anwar had instructed MPs from PH not to stand up, although several Amanah MPs appeared to have missed the message.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the three MPs from his Pejuang bloc however stood up. The former prime minister later lashed out at the opposition as unprincipled for not making good on their threat to scuttle the budget.

A post by Facebook user Adam Mukhriz Mohd Muhayeddin appeared to sum up the frustrations of PH supporters.

“All the while, the opposition had been making noise against Jasa and calling for the budget to be rejected,” he wrote, referring to the much criticised budget allocation for the government’s Special Affairs Department.

“Today, no one had the courage to stand up.”

MD Zaki meanwhile said he was convinced that the move was due to Anwar not having a “formidable” and “convincing” majority, words that the PKR leader repeatedly used last month when he claimed to be on the brink of toppling Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin through the defection of MPs.

“Anwar is aware that he does not have the numbers,” he said, adding that Anwar’s chances of becoming the prime minister were still uncertain even if MPs voted against the budget and caused the collapse of the government.

“In short, it’s all about his ambition.”

However, there were also those who commended PH MPs for allowing the budget to be passed.

“Thank you to all MPs who supported (the budget),” wrote Facebook user Abdul Malek II.

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