KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 ― Every MP should be given the freedom to support, reject or even refrain from voting on Budget 2021, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said today as lawmakers debate Malaysia’s biggest spending proposal at RM322.5 billion.
The Umno vice-president and a former MP offered the suggestion as an alternative to the bloc voting convention, saying Malaysia must start moving towards nurturing bipartisan political practices for the sake of the nation’s welfare and public interests.
“The rakyat expect MPs to give their best at all times. Hence, even good ideas can and will be supported by Opposition members, and superficial ideas can and will be rejected, even by members of the same party,” the Johorean said in a statement.
He added that en bloc support for a parliamentary motion does not necessarily reflect the strength of a party.
“Instead, the party will be seen as not being able to create new ideas or have the freedom to express new democratic stances,” he said.
He added that Budget 2021 has many good points and advantages, but also requires some readjustments to further improve it.
“God willing, if the changes are done, MPs will use their good conscience to vote democratically for the benefit of the people and the country,” he said.
The mammoth Budget 2021 tabled on November 6 marks the first national expenditure planning by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and has been dressed as a Covid Budget.
Voting is expected to take place next week.
Opposition MP as well as some government backbenchers have indicated that they may not support the Budget, despite calls from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to do so and a recent survey by the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research showing 68 per cent of Malaysians hoping they would to address growing joblessness and other economic fears in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Others have given conditional support, including former prime minister and Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak provided the government amend several provisions in its proposed Budget.
Conflicts pitting Umno party members against each other have erupted in the public sphere as a result.
PN Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim came under fire from his own Umno colleagues after he made a broad remark describing government MPs who criticised the Budget as “betraying” public trust.