Analyst sees Najib, Anwar as big winners if budget shot down

(FMT) – A sociopolitical analyst speculates that former prime minister Najib Razak and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim will emerge the “biggest winners” if the budget is not passed in the Dewan Rakyat.

Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said Najib would claim that he had acted in the interest of the public, and Anwar would get an opportunity to change the government.

In the debate on the budget, Najib demanded that the government allow a one-off RM10,000 Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal and an automatic six-month loan moratorium extension as conditions for Barisan Nasional’s support.

“He and Umno will claim that the budget was shot down because of their struggle to get the best deal for the people,” Awang Azman said.

“Anwar and PKR will benefit because they now have a chance to change the national political landscape by bringing down the Perikatan Nasional-led administration.”

The budget needs a simple majority to be passed and this will be challenging for a government with a razor thin majority, especially if Umno MPs join opposition MPs in rejecting it.

Awang Azman said a failure to pass the budget would effectively serve as a “no confidence” vote against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who would then have to resign, resulting in the collapse of his government.

But he said there was still room for the government to negotiate with MPs to get their support for the budget.

“Given the Covid-19 situation, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is unlikely to consent to an election and this will mean appointing a new prime minister who enjoys the support of the majority,” he said.

“But while Najib and Anwar may be on the same page in objecting against the budget, working together to form a government is another matter altogether and will depend on the political situation then.”

Another analyst, former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Azmi Hassan, said Najib would be seen as a winner only on the EPF and moratorium issue but would still be accused of playing politics against Muhyiddin.

Those who oppose the budget or abstain from supporting it would be seen as putting politics above the welfare of the people, he said.

Azmi told FMT he believed the government still had time to negotiate with MPs to get their support for the budget and would likely do so.

He said it would be difficult for Anwar to form a government even if the budget was shot down and Muhyiddin were to resign.

“Umno and DAP will need to work together, which is impossible,” he said. “In fact, it will be difficult for any MP to prove he commands majority support.

“This is why it is possible that even if the government collapses, Muhyiddin could still be appointed interim PM until elections can be held.”