KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia today maintained that only 51 Opposition lawmakers had voted against the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry's 2018 Budget bill last Monday, as opposed the 52 as claimed by Opposition.
He said that although a total of 52 Opposition Members of Parliament had participated in the bloc voting, the voting paper of the 52nd lawmaker, Julian Tan Kok Ping (DAP-Stampin), was not signed by G. Manivannan (PKR-Kapar), who had called for the vote.
He ruled that the bloc voting mooted by the Opposition was frivolous as some of the lawmakers had gone for prayers that night, and that all the MPs were tired due to the prolonged sitting the previous day.
"When I consider all this, there is no other way you can describe the bloc voting that day other than being frivolous.
"If you wanted to vote against the Budget, you could have done so after the third reading. At this particular point, the MPs were mostly tired from debating and it was also prayer time," he said, further questioning whether the vote was done deliberately to embarrass the government's side.
Manivannan, in the end, admitted to the House that he had overlooked Tan during the voting session.
The Opposition caused a stir last week when they demanded bloc voting after Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin had wrapped up the 2018 Budget debate at the committee stage for his ministry.
The proposal had been put forward by Manivannan as the Opposition MPs had outnumbered BN MPs at the time.
In the subsequent bloc voting, the bill squeezed through on a 52-51 vote with Pas MPs abstaining from the vote.
Opposition lawmakers had argued that several BN MPs had entered the Dewan late and that their vote should not count.
In response, Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee said there was no provision in the Standing Orders which dictate the time frame for MPs to be in the Dewan.