Anwar admits dissuading Opposition MPs from blocking budget

However, the Opposition will still scrutinise Budget 2021 in the committee level debate

pic by BERNAMA

OPPOSITION leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) admitted that he has instructed opposing lawmakers to give way for Budget 2021 in the policy stage, saying he did not want to block the improvement and concessions made by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

He said the decision was very difficult as Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz allegedly “evaded substantive fundamental issues” including the projection and revenue of the budget.

“What he (Tengku Zafrul) did was announce additional grants, allowance to frontline workers, farmers, fishermen etc, and that complicates matters.

“I don’t want to be seen ignoring the fact that the minister has taken some measures, although he rejected the fundamental issues, he announced some measures which are more acceptable for the rakyat,” he told the press after the Dewan Rakyat session adjourned yesterday.

Anwar said the Opposition will still scrutinise Budget 2021 in the committee level debate.

The ruling coalition was left with 111 support of the total 222 parliamentary seats. PN earlier had two majority votes with 113 supports, before Gerik MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman died on Nov 16.

Early this week, Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah announced that he will abstain from the budget, questioning the legitimacy of the PN government under the leadership of Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

However yesterday, only 13 MPs stood up and went against the bill, which also resulted in no voting processes needed in the house. In order to have the voting processes take place, it needs at least 15 MPs to reject the bill.

Among the 13 MPs are all four members of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air led by former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Parti Amanah Negara, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, DAP and Parti Sarawak Bersatu.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir expressed his frustration against Opposition lawmakers, stressing that he will not compromise to support the government which was formed via a support from former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.

“A government that is built from bribes and kickbacks to MPs and a government that is corrupt is being supported by these MPs and the Opposition MPs without any sense of guilt that they have now betrayed their promise to the people,” said Dr Mahathir.

“This is what happened in Parliament today,” he added.

Political analysts said the passing of the budget, albeit at policy stage was expected as PN-led government sought to compromise with the demands from the Opposition and ruling parties.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Kuala Lumpur senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali said the support received by the Opposition bloc showed that they are willing to support the budget if their terms and demands are met.

Mazlan said the debates and series of negotiations made among lawmakers are part and parcel of the check and balance process.

“The government can consider these voices and they did in the decision like EPF contributors to withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1. So this would be the justification why the Opposition bloc supported this budget,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Mazlan added that the outcome yesterday indicated that Pakatan Harapan is not united anymore and it may give advantages to the ruling coalition to remain intact until the next general election.

Muhyiddin said in a statement that the government has tried to accommodate all views and make amendments accordingly in order to allow the Budget 2021 to be passed and for the people’s benefit.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s politics and international relation associate Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the Opposition has no choice but to accept the budget after many amendments were made.

“Additionally, this would go against the decree of the King. This will put the political parties in dilemma and at risk to be rejected by the people in the next general election,” he added.