Economic issues are expected to dominate the session with calls to reinstate the abandoned GST to boost the nation’s income
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE lower house will convene today as MPs head back to the August house after a three-month break, and in what many political analysts expect, to be a raucous session.
Economic issues are expected to dominate the session with calls to reinstate the abandoned Goods and Services Tax (GST) to boost the country’s income. The government is divided over the consumption tax, which it sent to the rubbish bin after taking over Putrajaya in May last year.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s delivery of Budget 2020 on Friday will likely see Pakatan Harapan opt for a more pragmatic stance in support of growth and less on cutting the country’s fiscal deficit.
The current session will also witness the tabling of the much-anticipated Defence Ministry White Paper, which promises clarity on Malaysia’s defence policy.
This would include setting out priorities in defence, a breakdown of the country’s military assets and spending, as well as clearer roles of agencies related to the country’s national security.
New bills are also expected to be tabled including the abolishment of mandatory death penalty as the government continues to make good of its election promises.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s (PM) Department (Law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the government will re-table a bill to repeal the AntiFake News Act following the end of a one-year cooling off period.
The bill was passed by the lower house, but it ran aground at the upper house. Despite the law still in existence, none have been charged under the act.
A bill on political funding is also expected to be tabled during this sitting. National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption DG Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed last month said the new legislation would compel political parties to disclose all sources of funding, including donations.
Presently, there are no laws to regulate political funding although there are rules that govern election spending.
PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the launch of the National Anti-Corruption Plan in January, said a law on political funding would cut the practice of cash and gifts that are traditionally given out on the campaign trail.
He said, while political parties required funds, they had to be legitimate.
Hot-button issues linked to the Lembaga Tabung Haji and the transfer of power between Dr Mahathir and PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim are also likely to dominate the current sitting.
The run-up to the Tanjung Piai by-election on Nov 16 will also be featured strongly, as both sides of the divide are expected to be short of an arm and a fist to put sway to public’s opinion.
The by-election is widely seen as a testing ground for the newly forged cooperation
between Umno and PAS last September. The formal alliance between Malaysia’s two oldest political parties under the premise of Islamic unity has raised fears of worsening racial and religious tensions.
With Pakatan Harapan’s multi-racial approach drawing concerns on affirmative-action privileges enjoyed by the country’s majority population, the Opposition is seeking to increase support from the Malay-Muslim voters.
It will be an acid test for Pakatan Harapan, a year after tabling its budget and the current Parliament session will also witness its resolve against a growing polarisation in the country.