KUALA LUMPUR: A motion by a lawmaker to slash RM1.95mil earmarked under Budget 2021 for Malaysia's participation in Expo 2020 Dubai was rejected by Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Dec 8).
Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah (PH-Petaling Jaya) was allowed by Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon to table her motion before the start of debates on the Environment and Water Ministry's budget allocation.
Rashid said he would allow only three MPs to take part in the debates before it was put to the House for a vote.
"I view that the allocation should be slashed from the budget as I have been given to understand that the Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre (Mastec) was previously allocated RM60mil for the Malaysian Pavilion at Expo Dubai.
"The ministry does not need this allocation and it could be channelled to other ministries," she said when debating the motion in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Dec 8).
She suggested that the allocation be given to the Health Ministry to help patients with critical illnesses.
M. Karupaiya (PH-Padang Serai), who supported Maria's motion, said there was no necessity to travel abroad at the moment for the expo in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It is better to save the money and use it to fight Covid-19. We should be more prudent in light of the not-so-stable economy," he added.
The expo, originally scheduled for October 2020 to April 2021, has been deferred to October 2021 until March 2022 because of the threat of Covid-19.
In his reply, Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man clarified that the RM60mil was for the construction of the Malaysian Pavilion at the expo and did not include the cost of security and personnel managing it.
He said participation in the expo was Malaysia's commitment to the United Nations' Paris Agreement on climate change.
Tuan Ibrahim noted that the Malaysian Pavilion would also help promote the country as it is expected to attract a million visitors and draw the interest of 200 companies and over 1,000 businesses.
The motion by Maria Chin was subsequently rejected by a voice vote.