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Anwar admits unilateral decision to reject bloc vote on Budget 2021

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim confirmed yesterday that he gave the order to stand down and has now admitted that the leaders of the other PH components did not share his stance. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim confirmed yesterday that he gave the order to stand down and has now admitted that the leaders of the other PH components did not share his stance. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim acknowledged today that both DAP and Amanah had wanted to force a division of the House during yesterday’s voting on Budget 2021.

Despite anticipation of heavy resistance to Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) maiden Budget 2021, the federal spending plan sailed past the policy stage when just 13 Opposition lawmakers stood to try and force bloc voting.

PKR president Anwar confirmed yesterday that he gave the order to stand down and has now admitted that the leaders of the other Pakatan Harapan components did not share his stance.

“Even though my colleagues, especially Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu, felt a need for a division at the time, I decided as the Opposition leader and Pakatan Harapan chairman to request that the party whips not do so.

“This was so that parliamentarians could closely scrutinise the announcements of the finance minister,” he said in a statement today.

It is unclear what prompted Anwar’s clarification today but PH parties have come under heavy criticism from supporters for their apparent failure to try and reject Budget 2021 despite their previously vociferous complaints about it.

The criticisms ranged from capitulation to an abdication of their duty as Opposition lawmakers, while others ventured towards speculation of a possible deal with the rival PN.

Yesterday, just 13 Opposition MPs including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu stood up to try and force a bloc vote.

Prior to the vote, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced several concessions to demands from both sides of the divide including extending the loan moratorium for all B40 income earners and small businesses as well as allowing eight million EPF contributors to withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1 in one lump sum instead of RM6,000 over 12 months.

This allowed Budget 2021 to be approved via a voice vote despite shouts from lawmakers ostensibly rejecting the federal spending plan.

Voting in Budget 2021 had come under extreme scrutiny as there was an expectation that it could be rejected.

By convention, a rejection of the federal Budget is considered a successful vote of no-confidence against the ruling party and should be met by the resignation of the entire Cabinet.

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