Pakatan to beat Najib in announcing budget


By Syed Jaymal Zahiid, FMT

PETALING JAYA: Opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat will unveil its budget on Oct 5, two days before Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister Najib Tun Razak announces his budget for the next year.

Barisan Nasional’s budget is expected to be people-friendly following talk of an impending general election.

The early announcement of Pakatan’s alternative budget is part of a political game aimed at deflecting possible accusations that the opposition copies its spending plan from the federal government.

The bloc’s PAS secretariat member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said they have two crucial proposals – to set up seven Pakatan-BN mixed committees in charge of their respective areas to discuss allocations and effective research aided by government funds to help MPs provide quality inputs.

The seven areas are national and international affairs; economics and finance; security; education, talent and employment; agriculture and regional development; infrastructure, resource management and environment; and community well-being.

The areas will have their respective ministries and designated MPs to debate on specific issues pertaining to the allocations.

Emulate first-world Parliaments

“If we look at first-world Parliaments, there are actual committees specialising in particular ministries… in Malaysia there are no such committees. The entire Dewan Rakyat is the committee,” Dzulkefly, the Kuala Selangor MP, told a press conference here.

He said the Malaysian model had resulted in ineffective debates and oversight while the long hours of gabfest – often stretching for 10 hours daily for 18 days – have caused fatigue among lawmakers.

As a result, the MPs find it hard to keep track of the debates and provide quality inputs.

“MPs’ inputs are important because they represent the interests of the rakyat,” said Dzulkefly, who is a PAS central working committee member.

He said that having more organised debates would also help lawmakers become more well-equipped and skilled.

“As time goes by, long-serving MPs will develop specialist expertise and experience which will enable them to ask pertinent questions and provide useful inputs.”

He said that debates in smaller specialised committees would enable MPs to participate more meaningfully and at the same time reduce partisanship.

“This is unlike in the Dewan Rakyat where the government and opposition are expected to ‘cross swords’”.

Absent fatigued MPs

BN lawmakers often blame their opposition counterparts for the long hours of debate, accusing them of playing politics to stall approval of the budget.