Anwar, Shafie question why Putrajaya blocking debate on Prihatin stimulus

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim delivers his speech during the second meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament during a live broadcast in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim delivers his speech during the second meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament during a live broadcast in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal today questioned Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for blocking a debate on the Covid-19 Prihatin stimulus package, citing the need for check and balance.

Anwar, who is Port Dickson MP, said this is the first time such a huge economic package was announced and barred from being debated, adding that the debates were important as several economic predictions had also been made by the government.

He also questioned why important appointments to government-linked companies (GLCs) were being made, while the debate session was disallowed.

“Is it so that the previous announcements and future ones would not make it possible for the participation of MPs to debate?

“Why did we block the debate on the economic recovery? Meanwhile, the GLC appointments were happening,” Anwar told reporters at the Dewan Rakyat here.

Anwar, who is PKR president, had on March 31, said that checks and balances were essential in the country’s administration and Parliament must be allowed to scrutinise the government’s RM250 billion Prihatin stimulus package.

In a Facebook Live session, he stressed that the country cannot be run by know-it-alls and important matters such as finance must receive Parliament’s approval.

Shafie meanwhile lamented that many businesses in Sabah were forced to shutter with many left unemployed, and demanded for an accurate statistic on the issue.

He said that the debate on the Prihatin package is therefore crucial.

Muhyiddin, however, reiterated his previous stand that the Covid-19 pandemic was a huge problem which the government was forced to contain, adding that he had to put the people’s welfare first in enacting immediate plans, and not wait to table the Prihatin package in Parliament firstly.

He, however, assured that Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz would be answering any queries regarding the package.

The May 18 Parliament sitting concluded after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s address, with the next session beginning today that will continue for 25 days.

The May 18 meeting was in accordance with Article 55 (1) of the Federal Constitution stating that the Dewan shall convene no later than six months after its last meeting.

Previously, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had questioned why the Dewan Rakyat sitting was held for one day only, sans debates on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s speech, adding that Sabah held its state assembly sitting for three days, with no hiccups.

“I am of the opinion that we cannot accept the reasoning that because of the pandemic, we can only meet for two hours, while in Sabah, the meeting is for three days, and how many fell sick after that?” he said.

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