ALL EYES ON ISMAIL SABRI’S RACIST BUDGET VOTE TODAY – PAKATAN EXPECTED TO AXE MOU & VOTE AGAINST THE 2022 SPENDING PLAN – IF NO CHANGES ARE ANNOUNCED – PLACING ISMAIL AT BERSATU’S MERCY EVEN BEFORE THE RED-HOT MALACCA POLLS ARE HELD THIS WEEKEND

29/3/2018, Kuala Lumpur - A general view of Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur. Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Budget 2022 to be voted on today, will MOU hold?

The Dewan Rakyat is expected to vote on Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s Budget 2022 at the first stage today which may put Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s deal with Pakatan Harapan to the test.

When Ismail was appointed prime minister in August, he had the support of 114 MPs. That support was determined by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after careful scrutiny.

Despite the Agong having decreed that this support be tested in the Dewan Rakyat through a confidence vote, the vote was never called.

On Sept 13, Ismail reached a psuedo-confidence and supply agreement with Harapan.

Every legislation passed in the Dewan Rakyat since was through “voice vote” and a vote is merely passed through shouts of “setuju” (ayes).

MPs have an option, albeit rarely used, to invoke a “bloc vote” where votes will be tallied among all MPs present and recorded in the Hansard.

Last year, there was disunity among opposition MPs in seeking the bloc vote on Budget 2021 at the policy stage. Only 13 were in favour, two short of required numbers to trigger the vote.

However, several bloc votes were called when Budget 2022 went to the ministry stage and the House voted in favour every time.

Currently, Ismail, who is the head of an administration consisting of parties which are slugging it out in the Malacca legislative assembly election.

Ismail belongs to the BN coalition and is the vice-president of coalition member Umno. One of BN’s main opponent in Malacca is Perikatan Nasional which has 50 MPs sitting on the government bench.

“Supporting the federal budget will send mix signals to PN supporters in Malacca,” one veteran lobbyist who declined to be named told Malaysiakini.

So far, BN and PN has mostly stayed away from attacking each other during the Malacca campaign and instead saved most of their vitriol for Harapan.

The BN leaders who hounded PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin when he was prime minister with the “kerajaan gagal” (failed government) slogan have desisted.

Similarly, PN’s main criticism of BN during the campaign was that Umno’s internal problems were the main cause of instability in the previous state government, leading to a snap election being called.

Harapan has thus far remained relatively cordial with Zafrul, engaging the latter in several rounds of discussion on Budget 2022, which was part of the deal with Ismail, the last meeting being yesterday.

According to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s Facebook page, the meeting involved “discussions on outstanding issues” between Harapan and the federal government.

“It will be decided when Zaful winds up the Budget 2022 debate,” wrote Lim.

Among others, Lim said Harapan wanted bigger budget allocations for Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysians facing problems due to the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recession.

This, wrote Lim, would not materially affect the government’s debts or deficit situation but may be critical in saving lives and livelihoods.

Harapan has been consulted several times by Zafrul on Budget 2022 and has claimed credit for some of the pronouncements in the Budget 2022 speech.

Among others, Harapan is claiming credit for the RM40 billion “Program Semarak Niaga Keluarga Malaysia” (SemarakNiaga) program to help revitalise businesses, Social Security Organization (Socso) protection for self-employed and gig workers, funding for vernacular schools, the JaminKerja initiative which mimics Harapan’s previous [email protected] employment incentive programe and extension of the Harapan-administration’s MySalam health insurance scheme for the poor, among others.

When asked if Harapan would seek finally seek a bloc vote today, one veteran Harapan MP told Malaysiakini: “It depends on Zafrul’s speech, right?”

MKINI

.