Bothered and bewildered with Anwar’s support for Budget 2021

The Port Dickson MP’s move continues to draw dismissive responses from PH leaders and their supporters

pic by BERNAMA

OPPOSITION MPs are still reeling from the confusion caused in Parliament last week, as party leaders now find themselves pitting against each other after Budget 2021 was passed at the policy stage without much contention.

PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s decision to support Budget 2021 last Thursday had triggered a public backlash as the Supply Bill was intended to double as a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

An attempt for a bloc vote last Thursday was unsuccessful with only 13 MPs supporting the request, including some Parti Amanah Negara lawmakers and four votes from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.

Anwar said he made a request to Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders to allow Budget 2021 to be passed at the policy stage as it would still be subjected to scrutiny at the committee stage. “It is not over yet,” Anwar said in a statement on social media.

However, until yesterday, the Port Dickson MP’s move continued to draw dismissive responses from PH leaders and their supporters.

Several Opposition leaders were apologetic, including Amanah deputy president Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub and Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, as both later described the move as a misreading of the situation.

Salahuddin said he did not want to go against Amanah president Mohamad Sabu’s decision to abide by Anwar’s request, while Syed Saddiq noted that there was a lot of confusion and lack of direction last Thursday. Both apologised for the “mistake” with Syed Saddiq saying that Opposition parties should have opted for bloc voting.

On social media, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance co-founder Luqman Long expressed his disappointment in Syed Saddiq for not opposing the Supply Bill, suggesting that the former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia youth chief had been wrong and careless in his decision.

Meanwhile, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, in a statement on Facebook, said Opposition lawmakers were ready to vote down the budget before instructions were given at the eleventh hour.

“We were ready to vote down the budget until last-minute instructions to stand down were issued, which we adhered to as per party conventions. We wanted to honour the trust placed in us and act accordingly,” she said in a statement signed by two other PKR MPs namely Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasir and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim. Hassan was the only MP from PKR who stood up and went against the vote.

Meanwhile, DAP — which is the single largest party in the Dewan Rakyat with 42 seats — also chose to toe the party line. All party representatives stood by Anwar’s call, except Mas Gading MP Mordi Bimol. “I was carried away with the dissatisfaction I felt as various allocations for my constituency were cancelled,” Mordi said.

DAP parliamentary leader Anthony Loke, while explaining the rationale behind the move, apologised openly to unhappy party members and supporters, and took responsibility for not issuing clear instructions to DAP lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said the Opposition has effectively endorsed the ruling Perikatan Nasional’s legitimacy by allowing Budget 2021 to be provisionally approved.

The former PM also rejected arguments that federal lawmakers could still challenge Budget 2021 at the committee stage which begins today.

“Opposing at the committee stage will bring no significant meaning to the government or the budget presented. This is only to deflect the criticism of Malaysians disappointed with the attitude of the Opposition,” he added.

Anwar had previously claimed to have a “convincing and formidable” support among MPs to unseat Muhyiddin and form a new solid administration, which would include members from Umno.

Read our earlier report


Anwar admits dissuading Opposition MPs from blocking budget