Much ado in Parliament but Perikatan’s Budget 2021 clears third reading by three votes

The PN government succeeded in getting its Budget 2021 through the third reading in the Dewan Rakyat after MPs voted 111-108 in its favour today. — Bernama pic
The PN government succeeded in getting its Budget 2021 through the third reading in the Dewan Rakyat after MPs voted 111-108 in its favour today. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — Despite all the speculation and drama in the last few weeks, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s Budget 2021 was passed 111-108 in its third reading in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun announced the absence of one MP when the Opposition called for bloc voting. It is believed the missing lawmaker is Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah from Barisan Nasional (BN).

The Dewan Rakyat also passed the budgets for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education earlier today. With this, the allocations for all 27 ministries have cleared the committee stage.

“This vote is proof the Perikatan Nasional government is concerned about the people,” Senior Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali (PN-Gombak) said in his support of the Budget motion when tabled by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

His remark triggered shouts of “pengkhianat” — Malay for traitor — from Opposition MPs.

Several MPs including Tan Sri Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau), Khalid Samad (Pakatan Harapan-Shah Alam) and RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) could be heard trading barbs as soon as the Speaker announced that the sitting was to be postponed to tomorrow morning.

Aside from that, today’s sitting seemed tame, compared to last week’s exchanges in the House during debates for the Supply Bills.

Yesterday, PH urged federal lawmakers from the Opposition bloc and government backbenchers to vote against the third reading of the Budget 2021 Bill.

Its secretariat claimed the Finance Ministry in its various media statements and round-up speech of the Budget failed to accommodate the various requests made by lawmakers and the public at large in regards to the people’s welfare.

This included issues concerning withdrawals from the Employees’ Provident Fund, the bank loan moratorium, financial assistance to frontliners and those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, children’s education, reduced income, unemployment and rising cost of living.

The Opposition had called for bloc voting on allocations for more than five ministries, including the Finance Ministry and Prime Minister’s Department, but failed to garner sufficient votes.

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