What a waste of time. That was how some Barisan Nasional members of Parliament felt about being forced to vote in the Parliament recently.[1][2]

This clearly demonstrates their disrespect for democratic process and how they view their jobs.

The sentiment originates from the fact that BN control more than half of the seats in the Parliament. By that virtue alone, BN maintain the majority power in the Parliament. There is however a little footnote to such statement: only those present during the actual voting session can vote. As a direct result, more than 82 BN MPs must be present to ensure that they win the contest by a simple majority, assuming all 82 Pakatan Rakyat MP are present and all MPs vote according to their party line.

The event of May 28 in the Dewan Rakyat proves the importance of attendance in the Parliament. It is a lesson that majority power cannot be taken from granted.

Initially, the Speaker swung to BN way after a voice vote was taken but when PR MPs contested his decision, he agreed to bloc voting instead. This action saw BN MPs suddenly scrambling to assemble their MPs far and wide, many whom were absence. Even the Prime Minister came running into the House to vote on the matter.[3]

The question is, why are these individuals not in the Parliament in the first place? For Ministers and their deputies, it is comprehensible but for other MPs, their absence should be frown upon.

Perhaps, they think that attending parliamentary sessions is a waste of time? And it was the first ever bloc vote in the history of the Malaysian Parliament no less and they say it is a waste of time![4]

One of the very few advantages of one-party system is that such arrangement avoids arguments and debate that may delay a body from arriving to a decision, for better or for worse. Perhaps, these BN MPs were too comfortable with the autocratic system that they had lived in earlier that they have yet to wake up to the new more democratic reality.

I for one support the PR MPs’ action. It forces all MPs to take their attendance in the Parliament seriously. If attending a session is too much of a hassle, then you are not fit to be an MP.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[1] — That isn’t the point actually. We wasted half and hour of precious debate time for the vote despite the Opposition knowing full well that the party with the majority is the government. [Real winners and losers. Nur Jazlan Mohamed. The Malaysian Insider. May 28 2008]

[2] — After Wan Junaidi announced the voting result, Cabinet ministers and government supporters thumped their tables as a sign of ”victory” while shouts of “what a waste of time” were heard. [Bill approved by block voting for first time. The Malaysian Insider. May 29 2008]

[3] — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz dashed out to the lobby and quickly signalled members to come in.

This prompted ministers, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam and other backbenchers in the lounge to abandon their cuppas.

Some of the ministers were also summoned from the Dewan Negara, which is currently also in session.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi walked briskly from his tower block office while Najib went in just before him.

As the seconds to the vote count ran down, the backbenchers began to relax as they saw Abdullah and Najib walking to their places. [Dewan Rakyat: High drama as opposition calls a vote by division. New Straits Times. May 29 2008]

[4] — KUALA LUMPUR: Block voting was carried out in the Dewan Rakyat for the first time to allow part of the Supplementary Supply Bill 2007 to be passed after several Opposition members noted the lack of quorum in the House. [Dewan Rakyat: First ever block voting. The Star. May 28 2008]

3 Responses to “[1672] Of voting is a waste of time, they say”

  1. on 29 May 2008 at 22:22 sigma

    Man these are gratifying times in Malaysian politics! :D

    Kinda reminded me of the West Wing episodes lol.

    Btw, I didn’t know about acclamation or ‘voice votes’ existed. Trust the quirky Brits to come up with things like this.

  2. on 30 May 2008 at 11:40 'Abidin

    Declaring voting “a waste of time” also disrespects their own independence. They are not automatons of the party.

    I spoke to one of the opposition whips recently and I am hopeful that the PR takes a more enlightened view of rebellion.

  3. on 01 Jun 2008 at 13:41 Hafiz Noor Shams

    yea, that’s right abidin.

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