Opposition narrowly loses vote on Budget 2021 allocation for Azmin’s ministry

Radzi Razak
·3-min read
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali delivers his winding up speech  on Supply Bill 2021 in Parliament, Kuala Lumpur December 3, 2020. — Bernama pic
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali delivers his winding up speech on Supply Bill 2021 in Parliament, Kuala Lumpur December 3, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun presided today over the division that approved the RM1.2 billion allocation for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) in Budget 2021 by 110 to 104.

Six federal lawmakers were absent during the vote, which also saw the Opposition break past its previous ceiling of 95 votes for the first time.

The division was also held under a new system that Azhar implemented to prevent a repeat of the miscount last week, in which he instructed those taking attendance on each side to be monitored by another lawmaker opposite them.

Last week, Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (BN-Tasek Gelugor) had wrongly included Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (BN-Padang Rengas) in the list of those supporting the Finance Ministry’s budget at the committee stage, when Nazri was not present in the house.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali wrapped up the debate, with fierce rival and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) among those who took part in the vote.

Both Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datoh) and his predecessor Datuk Seri Najib Razak (BN-Pekan) also voted.

During his winding up speech, Azmin had sparred with former finance minister Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan), former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Pejuang-Langkawi), and others who disputed his ministry’s allocations.

Lim contested a RM25 million addition to the ministry’s allocation to host Asia Pacific Economic Council (Apec) 2020, saying the RM350 million approved previously was sufficient since the event will only be held online.

Azmin responded by saying the original budget approved in 2018 had been RM635 million, but this was reduced last year.

He said funds were also used for 104 APEC-related meetings that started with Dr Mahathir’s meeting in Langkawi in 2019, with the rest spent on branding and services for the conference.

Azmin then said Miti only spent RM66.6 million while the remaining RM233.4 million was returned to the Finance Ministry for use in its Covid-19 stimulus packages.

Lim disagreed and insisted the figure was too high.

MPs from both sides continued arguing in the background and Azmin said he will provide a detailed written reply for the issue.

Azhar then called for a vote, rang the bell for two minutes, and adjourned the Dewan Rakyat for 10 minutes before commencing.

Yesterday, the Dewan Rakyat approved the allocations for three ministries under Budget 2021 at the committee stage today, with all passed via voice vote as Opposition lawmakers did not try to trigger any divisions.

Altogether, the allocations of eight ministries have been approved at the committee stage debate of Budget 2021, with four via voice votes and another four through divisions.

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