Reallocation bill clears Dewan Rakyat hurdle

Govt MPs made sure the (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2020 passed at the policy stage by 111 votes to 106


LAWMAKERS have backed a crucial bill aimed at reallocating RM7.18 billion from a consolidated fund appropriated in Budget 2020 for the new government’s use.

Government MPs made sure the bill passed at the policy stage by 111 votes to 106, amid resistance from Opposition MPs who viewed support for the bill as a form of endorsement for a “backdoor government”, which did not have the mandate of the people. Five MPs were absent.

This marked the second time Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s government was tested with a bloc vote, a month after a motion to remove Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as Speaker was passed.

Once again, the government bloc won by a wafer-thin majority.

Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun made an unprecedented move earlier when he walked out of the chamber for 10 minutes after calling for a bloc vote at the policy stage.

This, based on a directive he made on Aug 11, was to give way for MPs to make their way into the hall.

The unusual move to temporarily adjourn proceedings just before a bloc vote was conducted had left Opposition lawmakers baffled, prompting many to question Azhar’s action.

Following the bloc vote at the policy stage, the legislation eventually passed through Dewan Rakyat on a voice vote.

The bill will now go through Dewan Negara before it receives royal assent and is written into law.

During the policy debate, several Opposition figures raised questions on the legitimacy of the ruling coalition as it did not get a clear mandate from voters.

Kota Raja MP Mohamad Sabu, who is Parti Amanah Negara president, said it was concerning to see MPs being bought at will.

Given the scenario, he said a billionaire abroad could technically control the whole of Malaysia with the loyalties of elected representatives open for trade.

“This is why the issue of a mandate is significant. It is not something to be trifled with,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.

“What we are worried about now is that MPs could be bought at will. Let’s say an allocation to buy an MP is RM30 million to RM40 million. That is an insignificant sum for a billionaire to buy over 112 MPs — enough to control Malaysia,” he said, about allegations linked to several assemblyman in Sabah who were allegedly offered millions to abandon their parties Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) in his speech said he was against the reallocation bill as it would mean paying for ministers and officers with no significant roles in government.

“The expansion of the Cabinet was done without taking into consideration the financial capacity of the government. We now have senior ministers and special envoys with ministerial status who enjoy the same wages and benefits as others in the Cabinet.

“This will reduce the government’s financial ability to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. I believe this is an irresponsible act of waste and that it should be rejected by the house,” the elder statesman said.

In winding up the debate, Deputy Finance Minister II Mohd Shahar Abdullah, citing movements on the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI), said the benchmark index had shown improvements since the new government took over.

He said the FBM KLCI was up 5.5% to 1,564.5 between March 1 and Aug 14 from 1.482.64 on Feb 28 — a day prior to Muhyiddin’s swearing-in. Market capitalisation was also higher by 5% at RM1.67 trillion.

Mohd Shahar, however, did not address questions raised by Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad on the country’s second-quarter GDP which plunged 17.1%, making Malaysia the worst-performing economy in Asean.

The Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2020 seeks to reallocate the stated sum following the formation of a new Cabinet on March 10.

Several new ministries were created, and others renamed, restructured and dissolved with its functions transferred to other ministries.

The bill seeks to move funds to the Higher Education Ministry (RM5.92 billion), PM’s Department (RM310.62 million), Environment and Water Ministry (RM305.99 million), National Unity Ministry (RM240.45 million) and Rural Development Ministry (RM189.17 million).

Others include the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry (RM102.6 million), Housing and Local Government Ministry (RM70.36 million), Treasury (RM17.25 million), Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (RM12.41 million), International Trade and Industry Ministry (RM10 million), and Treasury General Services (RM2.41 million).