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Monday, January 18, 2021

Najib 128, Mahathir 74

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Nevertheless, notwithstanding what happened to those 20 ‘missing’ votes, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s campaign to oust Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak through a vote-of-no-confidence in Parliament (by voting against the budget) has failed, at least in this first round. You can even say it is Najib 128 versus Dr Mahathir 74.

The first attempt at a vote-of-no-confidence today failed when 128 Members of Parliament voted in support of Budget 2016 with only 74 voting against. There would most likely be a second and final attempt on 1st December 2015 and if that fails as well then the anti-Najib forces would have to try for a last ditch attempt to oust the Prime Minister during the Umno general assembly around 10 days after that.

Barisan Nasional has 132 Members of Parliament (88 are from Umno and 32 from the other East Malaysian parties). MCA, Gerakan and MIC have a total of 12 MPs to make up that 132. The opposition or non-Barisan Nasional parties have a total of 88 MPs. However, only 72 of those 88 are from Pakatan Harapan (DAP 37, PKR 29 and PAN 6). PAS has 14 MPs with two more MPs who are independents.

This means Barisan Nasional ‘lost’ four votes while the opposition ‘lost’ 16. In short, 20 MPs did not vote, abstained from voting, or did not attend Parliament. (One vote, Lim Kit Siang, was lost because he has been suspended from Parliament for six months).

It would be interesting to see whether Muhyiddin Yassin and Shafie Apdal voted in support of Budget 2016, voted against it, abstained from voting, or were absent from Parliament. At the time I am writing this I do not yet have the information and even the press that attended Parliament are not too sure (tidur ke?).

Nevertheless, notwithstanding what happened to those 20 ‘missing’ votes, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s campaign to oust Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak through a vote-of-no-confidence in Parliament (by voting against the budget) has failed, at least in this first round. You can even say it is Najib 128 versus Dr Mahathir 74.

The anti-Najib forces were short of 38 votes today and if they want to succeed the next time around on 1st December they would need to work harder and those 38 votes will have to come from Barisan Nasional (or at least 24 votes from Barisan Nasional if they can get all 14 of the ‘abstention’ PAS votes).

Of course, there can always be a ‘swing’ on 1st December but considering the large gap of 38 votes it seems unlikely that the margin can be narrowed. In fact, now that 1MDB has been explained on Saturday (although the opposition and anti-Najib forces are still not happy with that explanation) and once Najib explains the RM2.6 billion donation it does not seem like the move to oust Najib is going to succeed.

Most of those who attended Saturday’s briefing cum questions-and-answers session at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) regarding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the 2016 Budget appear satisfied that what was initially reported was not quite true. Not only did RM42 billion not disappear into thin air, as what Dr Mahathir had alleged, but after paying off all the debts 1MDB would have a balance of RM10 billion in assets.

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