Opposition MPs call for more transparency on budget debate

It will be more and more difficult for MPs to get clarification from ministers

pic by BERNAMA

THE limited number of attendance for MPs and a shorter Dewan Rakyat session do not promote transparency as well as check and balance for the government, Opposition MPs said.

Lembah Pantai MP Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil said this will stifle the Opposition representatives from highlighting or reasoning certain issues ad hoc in the Parliament.

“It will be difficult for us to coordinate. Normally when we speak, our issues or questions may be addressed out of order or not in any particular sequence.

“Now, it will be more and more difficult for MPs to get clarification from ministers,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.

The Dewan Rakyat has decided to allow only 80 MPs to attend per sitting, which will be limited to 10am to 2pm from Nov 9-15, in view of the Covid-19 situation.

Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said these measures are some of the adjustments to the Dewan Rakyat Order of Business for the Third Meeting of the Third Session of the 14th Parliament to ensure smooth running of the Dewan Rakyat amid the pandemic.

All MPs are allowed to enter the Dewan Rakyat to vote. They will be given 10 minutes to cast their votes.

“More than this, limiting the session to 2pm beginning next week will also be seen in a bad light, as though it is curbing the democratic rights of MPs.

“What I find most disappointing is the unwillingness of this government to pass the necessary laws in order to conduct Parliament digitally, as we have seen in several other jurisdictions,” he added.

Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (picture) said his party accepted the ruling but called for better transparency on the budget.

“Our party whip was informed about it (ruling) and if that’s what has been decided, we have to accept it.”

“But it is my hope that there is a better transparency on the budget and if it’s good for the nation, of course, I will support it,” he told TMR yesterday.

He had proposed for the government to suspend allocation for development expenditure next year, stressing that the funds could be utilised to revive the battered economy.

Additionally, he also proposed for the government to improve deliveries and manage the leakages as according to him, it had been a long-standing issue that cost taxpayers’ money.

Meanwhile, political scientist Prof Dr Jayum Jawan stressed that if there is a need for voting, all MPs should be given the chance to do so and not only those who are physically present.

“This is a new phenomenon and so perhaps, laws or the constitution may not have provisions that could ideally deal with the situation, hence there must be flexibility to accommodate this new normal.

“Anyway, laws and constitution are man-made and can or should be changed whenever necessary to accommodate changing circumstances for the good of the people,” he told TMR.

“The business of governing must go on and this new normal is something that they or we have to adjust to,” he said.


Read our earlier report here