Malaysians suffered another blow to their democratic hopes when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told Pakatan Harapan MPs to support the first vote of the federal budget, despite the many concerns voiced by PH MPs and the rakyat.
In contrast to Anwar’s betrayal, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and 12 other MPs had more gumption, standing up to finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz and his boss, Muhyiddin Yassin.
Malaysians did not elect MPs to support the interests of their parties.
Malaysians elected their MPs to uphold the interests of the rakyat. This budget was flawed and the only way to make it known to Perikatan Nasional is by rejecting it.
Allowing the budget to get through this stage was a betrayal by Anwar and PH. The budget does not cater fairly to all sections of the community. Many non-Malay concerns have yet to be addressed. Many figures were missing and we still do not know how Tengku Zafrul will fund his very ambitious budget.
Tengku Zafrul said that the economy was projected to grow. Really? Malaysia’s economy is contracting, the worldwide economy is in a slump, many businesses have gone bust and more people are out of work. How will Tengku Zafrul collect enough from taxes to fund this budget?
He failed to mention how industries would be revitalised, and the long term measures to sustain the economy.
When pressed for an answer, Anwar admitted that the budget had many inconsistencies. So, why did he instruct Amanah and DAP MPs to approve it?
Why didn’t the Harapan MPs vote in line with their conscience and principles, which are to uphold the interests of the electorate? Why didn’t the MPs reject the budget on the grounds of inaccuracy and misrepresentation of the numbers?
JASA, the propaganda unit, will receive RM85.5 million, to make Muhyiddin look good. Criticism by the rakyat forced a climbdown by the Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah. He said that JASA would be rebranded as J-Kom and its allocation reduced.
Saifuddin should not insult the intelligence of the rakyat. Rebranding JASA would not resolve the issue of wasting public resources, and he failed to say what the new allocations were.
The vote on Nov 26 was a very important one. If Anwar cared for the rakyat, he would have made every attempt to stop the budget then, instead of seeking to do so at the committee stage and the third reading. He should not procrastinate.
When pressed by reporters, Anwar admitted that Tengku Zafrul’s budget was highly unrealistic and the projected revenue, estimated to be higher than in 2019, was a matter of concern. Why then did Anwar agree to the budget? It does not make sense.
Why agree at this stage and then remind everyone that they will oppose the budget in the future? What is Anwar up to?
The opposition leader said that opposition MPs would mount a fight in the debate at the committee stage on Monday. Is Anwar that naive? Hasn’t he realised that when he makes his announcements in advance, PN will have their counter strategies and arguments ready?
When asked if the palace’s announcement to support the budget had anything to do with his decision, Anwar said that the palace had asked for inclusivity and a budget focused on Covid-19.
Again, his answer is revelatory. Despite knowing that this budget was discriminatory and lacked the necessary Covid-19 details, Anwar still supported the budget. He claimed that approving the budget was to allow the salaries for the civil servants to be paid.
Perhaps this is the crux of the matter. It is a question of ego. Anwar’s.
Anwar wants to look good in the eyes of the Malays because this budget caters primarily to the Malay community. Anwar does not want to be blamed for rejecting the budget and then be blamed by PN for the government’s inability to pay civil servants’ salaries.
Is Anwar that gullible? How could a seasoned politician like him fall for Tengku Zafrul’s emotional blackmail? A fortnight ago, Tengku Zafrul said that failing to approve the budget would mean that civil servants would not be paid and important projects could not be funded.
Anwar must realise that as an MP, he should uphold the interests of his electorate.
If the budget estimates are inaccurate and numbers are missing, he should demand that this is corrected before the budget is approved.
A leader is not afraid to ask difficult questions. A wannabe prime minister should stand up for the interests of all Malaysians, and not one section.
He should also have the courage of his convictions to do the right thing, even if others disagree with him.
Source : FMT