How voting in the Dewan Rakyat works

·2-min read
How voting in the Dewan Rakyat works
How voting in the Dewan Rakyat works

The Dewan Rakyat will make a crucial vote on Budget 2021 today, which may determine whether the Perikatan Nasional government stays in power.

Today's vote will mark the end of the second reading, or policy stage of the supply bill, after which they will move on to the committee stage.

Here is how the voting process will work.

After the last minister has finished wrapping up the policy stage debate - in this case, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz - the speaker presiding will call for a voice vote.

The speaker will first ask for those who agree, and then those who don't. If there are more MPs who voice out in agreement, the vote is passed.

However, an MP can dispute the result. If 15 MPs support a dispute, a bloc vote - or division (belah bahagi) - is called.

Under the current arrangement, a bell will be rung for two minutes to call lawmakers who may be outside of the hall to come in to vote.

There will then be a 10-minute wait, after which the bell will be rung for another two minutes before the doors are locked.

The 80 MPs limit due to Covid-19 will not apply, and all lawmakers will be allowed in to vote.

Fahmi Fadzil (Harapan-Lembah Pantai) explained that six MPs will then act as vote counters to represent the six blocs of seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

The vote counter will call out the MPs in their section one by one, and jot down their voting choice on a clipboard.

"Then the clipboard is handed over to the Dewan Rakyat secretary, who will do the tally and hand over the figure to the speaker, who will announce it," Fahmi told Malaysiakini.

Whichever side has a majority, wins. A simple majority (112 votes) is not required for a vote to pass. A two-thirds majority (148 votes) is only required for constitutional amendments.

The voting process is repeated during the committee stage.

In the case of the budget, there will be a vote for each ministry's budget during the committee stage.