Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bungle in deputy speaker voting forces review of PR pact

Bungle in deputy speaker voting forces review of PR pact
By V. Vasudevan, Suresh Ram, Eileen Ng and S. Kamini
pix: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi bersalaman dengan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim selepas majlis Istiadat Pembukaan Penggal Pertama Majlis Parlimen Malaysia yang ke-12.
THE de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat has called on its members to ensure better cooperation, after Monday’s embarrassment when an opposition MP refused to cast a vote for the pact’s candidate for a deputy speaker’s post. Even worse for the pact, 17 of its 82 MPs cast their vote for one of the rival candidates, Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (BN-Santubong). Blaming the bungle on the pact’s failure to make a stand on the matter, Anwar said he had a discussion with leaders of the Pakatan Rakyat on Monday. “In future, we have to reach a consensus early,” he said after attending the Royal Address.

In Monday’s voting, all the 140 Barisan Nasional MPs voted for the coalition’s candidates. Wan Junaidi picked up 157 votes while his counterpart Datuk Ronald Kiandee (BN-Beluran) received 140 votes. However, Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate Dr Tan Seng Giaw received 81 votes instead of the expected 82.

Many opposition deputies felt Dr Tan could have been denied the one vote by Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who won his Pasir Mas seat as a Pas candidate but sits in the House as an Independent.

Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang played down the opposition vote bungle. “It shows that there is democracy in Pakatan Rakyat on matters where members could exercise their will. It also shows that we do not force Pakatan members to vote. It is also not a policy matter,” he said.

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang said it was clear that the three parties — PKR, DAP and Pas — rooted for Dr Tan.

On the 17 votes to Wan Junaidi, Lim said it showed that opposition members voted only for the first deputy speaker and the votes did not go to the second deputy speaker.

Selangor Menteri Besar and Bandar Tun Razak MP Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said there was a need to improve communications among the Pakatan ranks.

Keadilan vice president Azmin Ali said the opposition did not vote for the BN candidate because they supported Wan Junaidi. “There was some confusion in yesterday (Monday) as some Pakatan Rakyat members told me they had submitted two names because they were worried that their votes will be considered a spoilt vote if they only voted for one person.”

DAP chairman Karpal Singh agreed, saying Tian Chua sought clarification on whether MPs needed to vote for two deputies or one but the others “probably didn’t hear the speaker’s reply”. ________________________________________
© Copyright 2008 The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad. All rights reserved.

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