Despite warnings, pundits say Budget 2021 likely to pass as MPs won’t risk public backlash

27-Nov-2020 Intellasia | Malay Mail | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Budget 2021 will likely be passed in Parliament today as MPs who vote against it may be seen as opposing public interest, several political analysts said amid repeated warnings by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration to voters.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Azmi Hassan suggested that critics, such as PN’s own ally Barisan Nasional (BN), can still vote for the Budget even if it does not meet its demands, as it can still be “tweaked” even after it is passed.

“I have full confidence that BN MPs will vote for the Bill even with the issue of EPF withdrawal and moratorium still not resolved come voting time. The Budget can still be tweaked after the vote for example during Committee level debate of the Budget, so all is not lost for BN.

“It is critical for BN to demonstrate that they have the people’s need as their priority and being part of the government, they have no choice to support the Bill,” he told Malay Mail.

Azmi stated that the two conditions set by BN are populist solutions, which is seen as another measure to help those who are cash strapped during these challenging economic times.

With the Parliament expected to vote on the mammoth RM322.5 billion Budget, it still remains a contentious subject even among MPs within the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration and its allies, who had called for several amendments to be made for it to be passed.

Among those most vocal is former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who stressed that BN would only support the budget on the condition that the government raise the withdrawal limit for Account One in the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) to RM10,000 and for a blanket extension of the loan moratorium until next June.

With the exact prescription of the Budget still being debated in parliament, some politicians such as Parti Amanah Negara deputy president Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub also cautioned that if PN fails to garner enough support for Budget 2021, it should “surrender” peacefully and make way for those who are more worthy.

While deliberations are being made between the Opposition lawmakers and even those in the within the government on supporting the Budget, going against the Budget could backfire and draw public backlash, said senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun.

“If the Budget is ultimately defeated which brings about the fall of the Muhyiddin government, the new government would, of course, present an even more populist budget to solidify its legitimacy.

“If the Budget is not defeated but close to it, then those voting against could be portrayed very negatively as being distracting in this time of distress,” he said.

Azmi also stated that BN MPs would have more to lose if they stood against the Budget

“As I see it the Opposition’s stand will be much easier to decide since they have the option to abstain under the pretext that the Bill is unsatisfactory to ease the people’s burden.

“But on the other hand, BN MPs have no choice but to support the Bill lest they want to be accused of putting party agenda ahead of the people’s need. Abstaining by the Opposition basically, can be accepted by the people but the same stand of abstaining by BN which is part of the PN government is quite odd indeed and could backfire politically,” he said.

Meanwhile, KSI Strategic Institute for Asia-Pacific’s economic advisor Prof Hoo Ke Ping also concurred with Azmi and Oh, stating that those who went against the Budget simply risked further political instability.

“If you are going against it then you are simply going against the people. You can always deliberate on further means to enhance it but voting against it right now is not good.

“What would be the scenario if the Budget fails? Then the government could possibly seek means for an emergency to be called and that could lead to further instability.

“But it is more likely that the Budget will be passed. In this regards, the people must come first,” he said.

The mammoth Budget 2021 tabled on November 6 marks the first national expenditure planning by the PN coalition led by prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and has been dressed as a Covid-19 Budget.

However amid concerns that the Budget may not be passed, state news agency Bernama has carried a series of articles warning of negative consequences should a negative outcome happens, even warning of a so-called government shutdown.


Category: Malaysia

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