DAP parliamentary leader Anthony Loke has apologised openly to unhappy party members and supporters who felt let down by DAP for failing to oppose Budget 2021 during the policy stage in the Dewan Rakyat.
In a statement last night, Loke took responsibility for not issuing an instruction to DAP lawmakers to push for bloc voting, which resulted in the budget being passed with a voice vote, while the bloc gambit failed to get the necessary support to proceed.
"As the DAP's parliamentary leader, I take full responsibility over my decision of not instructing our MPs to request for a bloc vote after receiving the message from the opposition leader (Anwar Ibrahim).
"I understand that many DAP members and supporters were very disappointed with the decision and criticised our action. I apologise openly if you feel that this is the wrong decision," he said.
Loke explained that they did not opt for bloc voting because they did not reject the budget as a whole.
"Why didn't we go for bloc voting? This is because we did not reject the entire budget.
"There were things we can agree and support, such as salary payment for civil servants, special allowance for frontliners, cash assistance for the people and wage subsidy for employers, transportation allocation such as MY30 pass and other allocation that directly benefit the people.
"However, there are allocations that we rejected, such as the RM85 million for the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) and a cut in the allocation for the vernacular schools," he added.
He further said that DAP will oppose and reject allocations it did not agree with at the committee stage.
"For instance, we will request for a bloc voting to reject the budget for the Communications and Multimedia Ministry as Jasa is under its jurisdiction.
"I pledge that all our lawmakers will ensure, starting next Monday... that the fight will go on," Loke added.
Yesterday, Anwar said he had appealed to his allies in Pakatan Harapan not to proceed with a bloc vote on the budget because he would not want to be seen as rejecting new incentives announced by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz.
Loke also raised concern that the Perikatan Nasional government would label Harapan lawmakers as disobeying the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who advised parliamentarians to support Budget 2021.
"They will accuse us of not wanting the civil servants to receive their wages, of not supporting the assistance given to the B40 groups.
"They will harp on the sentiments of the people with all sorts of accusations," the former transport minister said.
Meanwhile, political scientist Wong Chin Huat opined that the budget should be put to vote on division.
"The MPs (should) state their choice of yes or no. To have a voice vote - used only when a clear majority is assumed on uncontroversial issues - is utterly unprofessional.
"The lamest excuse I have heard is futility, because Umno defection did not happen. No, you don't vote only when you can be sure of the outcome. If MPs are so consequentialist, then should their party supporters stay at home during an election for every constituency that is not their stronghold?" Wong posted on his Facebook.
"The second lamest excuse is that 'we objected through voice vote'. Voice vote is for 'yes'. You think we are idiots?"
"If the concern is the smear campaign of 'defying the ruler', then they should have at least abstained after forcing a division vote.
"Anwar, (DAP leader) Lim Guan Eng, (Warisan chief) Shafie Apdal and (Amanah president) Mohamad Sabu owe the public an explanation," Wong added.