The budget for the federal territories ministry was passed by bloc vote after the committee-stage debate in the Dewan Rakyat today, following a walkout by most of the MPs from the opposition over the presence of three others who had been placed under home surveillance order (HSO).
The MPs in question – Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, Human Resources Minister M Saravanan and Pakatan Harapan’s Batu MP P Prabakaran – had entered the public gallery dressed in personal protective equipment to join the voting process.
Kuala Langat MP Dr Xavier Jayakumar questioned the rationale of allowing the trio into the Dewan Rakyat to vote.
He was supported by Sepanggar MP Azis Jamman, who said they risked infecting others in the house as well as their families.
However, speaker Azhar Harun said the decision had been made following the move of an MP who broke quarantine order to join the voting last week.
“Last Thursday, an MP from the other side (opposition) who did not comply with the quarantine order came to vote.
“I do not want the matter to arise again, so it is better for me to regulate the voting process,” he said.
A total of 110 MPs voted in support of the ministry budget while seven voted against it, 31 abstained and 72 were absent.
In a press conference after that, Johari Abdul (PH-Sungai Petani) who is PKR chief whip said the speaker had not called the whips before deciding to allow MPs undergoing HSO to be present in Parliament.
“In other cases, the chief whips would be called by the speaker about any decision such as how many hours to debate, SOPs – today this did not happen.”
Mahfuz Omar (PH-Pokok Sena) meanwhile said the opposition had no information on the MP who broke his quarantine in order to join in the vote last week.
“We have no information, but if he (the speaker) is right that an opposition MP came, action should have been taken that day,” he said.
The RM957 million allocation is the 23rd ministry budget to be passed so far and the ninth to be passed by bloc vote.
The budget for 2021 – RM322.5 billion, the country’s largest ever – was passed at the policy stage on Nov 26 in what was seen as a crucial test of support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
It was passed by voice vote after the opposition failed to garner enough support to force a bloc vote.