Anwar: We are not done with Budget 2021 yet

KUALA LUMPUR: After Budget 2021 was passed with a simple voice vote at the policy stage in Parliament, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says that the Perikatan Nasional government is still not out of the woods yet.

While acknowledging that other Opposition MPs, namely Kota Raja MP Mohamad Sabu, had strong views against Budget 2021, Anwar said he had appealed to the Amanah president to “allow Budget 2021 to go on”.

“This is to avoid bloc voting so we can still continue (debating the Budget). There is no guarantee that it won’t be approved.

“Next Monday, when Budget 2021 is at the committee stage, it will be further deliberated at length. We will certainly choose to reject and call for a revision if it is deemed necessary, ” Anwar told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Thursday (Nov 26).

Anwar was speaking to reporters after attending a meeting with DAP and PKR MPs in Parliament after Budget 2021 was passed in Parliament via a simple voice vote.

“Whether it will be approved or not at the final third reading (committee stage), there is no indication that we are not pursuing the agenda, ” said Anwar, referring to the reform agenda.

Also present were top DAP leaders such as Anthony Loke, Lim Guan Eng and Gobind Singh Deo.

Anwar also acknowledged that Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had taken several measures when he announced the amendments made to Budget 2021.

“I don’t want to be seen ignoring the fact that the minister had taken some measures to address fundamental issues which will be more acceptable to the rakyat.”

The Port Dickson MP, however, criticised Zafrul for only providing vague details on allocations during his winding-up speech on Budget 2021.

“The minister is expected to at least tabulate numbers and figures. He just says no increase (in funds). How can you say no increase when you spend millions?” he questioned.

Anwar also criticised Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun for allegedly being “blatantly biased” when chairing the meeting.

“Speaker, please use your responsibility and power and ensure that there are adequate avenues for MPs to express their views, ” he added.

Earlier in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 26), Amanah's Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar called for a bloc vote on Budget 2021 after it was passed in a voice vote.

Azhar said there were 13 MPs who stood up in support of Mahfuz but the identities of the 13 could not be confirmed.

Other MPs from Pejuang and Amanah, namely Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Datuk Shahruddin Md Salleh, and several other MPs also stood up in support of Mahfuz.

Mahfuz's call for a bloc vote turned futile after Azhar said there were only 13 MPs who stood up in support, short of the required 15 MPs under Standing Order 46(4).

DAP's and PKR's decision not to support bloc voting called by Mahfuz was criticised by Malaysians on social media.

"YB, I as a citizen in your constituency, feel very disappointed with what happened just now in Parliament. Why didn't you voice out your grievances against the budget," asked Twitter user Lam Ian.

Under Standing Order 46(3), a Bill will be put to the House for a voice vote of "ayes" and "noes" at the debates, with the results announced by the Speaker.

The results can be challenged by an MP under Parliament Standing Order 46(4) by calling for a bloc vote which involves actual vote count of lawmakers present in the House.

However, for a bloc vote to be triggered, at least 15 lawmakers must be seen standing in support, failing which the Speaker will announce results of the earlier voice vote.

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