Dr Mahathir Mohamad has accused the opposition bloc of trying to divert attention from public criticism over their refusal yesterday to call for a bloc vote on the 2021 budget, in remarks seen as a response to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who defended the last-minute instruction given to Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs.
The former prime minister, who was one of 13 MPs who stood in support of a bloc vote while nearly all PH MPs remained seated, said the opposition had given recognition to the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin when the second reading of the budget was passed without a bloc vote being called.
“It was strange. Since the formation of the Muhyiddin government, the opposition has been trying to bring it down through a no-confidence motion in Parliament. There were no fewer than 25 motions of no confidence submitted.
“When the budget was tabled, the opposition claimed it would reject it. Some leaders met me a day earlier to state their opposition.
“But this did not happen,” Mahathir wrote in his blog.
His statement came less than an hour after Anwar again defended his instruction to opposition MPs 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.
“There is still an opportunity in the coming weeks to state a strong stand at the committee stage, including through bloc vote,” Anwar said.
But Mahathir said opposing the budget at the committee stage would be futile.
Yesterday, MalaysiaNow reported that Anwar’s eleventh-hour instruction to his comrades saw most PH MPs sitting out a call for a bloc vote on the 2021 budget, which was easily passed by voice vote.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun had urged MPs who wanted a bloc vote to stand up, but only 13 did so, two MPs short of the minimum 15 needed.
Mahathir said the claim that the opposition could still oppose the budget at the committee stage, which begins next week, was a ploy to divert attention from public criticism of the opposition’s action yesterday.
“The opposition was willing to compromise, ignore principles and sell out the people’s support for their own interest,” he added.
Yesterday’s vote on the budget had been keenly awaited as any failure to pass the bill at the policy stage could mean the collapse of Muhyiddin’s government and pandemic-season polls which health authorities have warned against.